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What did we not talk about? An honest conversation (podcast) with One Single Woman

I am back in the US (more on that in a future newsletter). On this (American) Mother’s Day morning, I want to share with you a podcast that I recorded back in late December. 

When Pippa Brown, the creator of One Single Woman podcast, reached out to me, I said yes because she was friendly and enthusiastic, two qualities I always love in a person. I could tell that she had found a soul mission in this project.

She released this episode on February 14 (Quirkyalone Day!) but that was the day I was leaving for Istanbul. Then I was out of the country until last Saturday.

The whole time I was away, I remembered I had this podcast to share with you. I was waiting for the right moment. It’s now! Mother’s Day! Because we talk quite a bit about the decision to be a mother, or not. This decision weighed heavily on me for years as I was out in the wilds dating and looking for a life partner, and I know the weight of this decision does for many people, even if the yes or no is clear.

Sometimes the good stuff takes a while to get out there just because I want to let these deep conversations soak into me. Then I figure out how to share with you, because honestly, as I have gone deeper into the layers of writing a memoir (the ultimate training ground for honesty), this process has spilled over to the degree of disclosure that happens in these interviews.

Sometimes to the point where I listened to the recording, and thought, damn did I say that? 

This podcast goes into a lot of soul questions that may be valuable for people who are asking questions about:

  • Becoming a mother, or not
  • Keeping our sexual energy alive: How do we not just let ourselves die on the vine if we are single for years, or in a sexless marriage?
  • How do we deal with feelings about aging?

So I took the time to get the whole thing transcribed and then fix up the transcription, because I really like all we covered. I will cherry-pick and highlight aspects of this conversation in future newsletters, because truly, we just got so honest it is worth sharing.

We will both love to hear your reactions.

So give yourself a nice hour to do the dishes and listen, or lie on your couch and listen

If you have never listened to a podcast in your life, give yourself a new experience.

The conversation continues in the comments. Let us know your responses!

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Here is the transcript from this fabulous conversation…with links to some of the resources mentioned.

Hello, and a massive warm welcome back to One Single Woman. 

Now, today may well be Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Quiirkyalone Day. Quirkyalone is a movement which was founded at the beginning of this century, and it spreads the important message of self-acceptance and living life on your own terms regardless of your relationship status.

My guest today is the awesome Sasha Cagen. Sasha is an American author and the founder of this movement she wrote Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics back in 2004. She’s also written To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soulmate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us and she’s currently working on her new memoir Wet.

Alongside writing Sasha works as a life and executive coach specializing in empowering women who are 40-plus to create turned-on lives, careers and businesses.

We discuss so many topics during this interview, we talk about being quirkyalone and whether a romantic relationship is a want or a need. We discuss Sasha self-marriage, her thoughts on not being a mother, and how she has listened to her bodily intuition to help her make important decisions in life.

We also discussed the empowerment of pussywalking, which Sasha invented and she now teaches to both women and men, and we dive into the topic of sex when you were a single person.

I do just want to mention that Sasha does touch on childhood sexual trauma. We don’t go into any detail but it is mentioned a few times during the course of this interview. 

And there are parts of this conversation which would not be suitable for children to listen to. Right. I really hope that you enjoy this conversation. Let’s go.

Hello, Sasha and a very warm welcome to One Single Woman. Thank you so much for being here with me today.

ABOUT QUIRKYALONE

Now you are the author of the book Quirkyalone, which is a concept which absolutely fascinates me. Could you please give some background about Quirkyalone, or where the concept initially came from?

Quirkyalone has been around for a while now because we’re almost at the end of 2023. I came up with “quirkyalone” back in 1999. So we’re talking about 24-25 years ago, which is like pretty insane to think that’s like half of my life.

So basically, it’s a concept that I came up with when I was in my mid-20s. I had spent most of my life single by then. I was still a very young person. 

I always felt like something was weird with me. You know, even going back to being 13 because I didn’t always have a boyfriend. Quirkyalone was a creation of mine to create a word to describe people who don’t settle in relationship, who want to be in a relationship, but may spend a longer period of time single versus others who more quickly find someone to couple up with. 

So I wrote an essay and published it in my own magazine To-Do List at the time and Utne Reader which was a magazine that published selections from other magazines. Utne reprinted the quirkyalone essay back in 2000. 

Then it was going viral before things went viral. This was very dawn of the Internet. Yeah, it just got this tremendous reaction from human beings all over who were inundating me with mixtapes and letters and letters from prisoners, and it was really quite a phenomenon.

This was way before it was so common for things to go viral. So it was like coming-to-my-post-office-box-viral. That led to interest from an agent which led to me writing a book that came out in 2004. And then when the book was published, Quirkyalone got a lot of media attention as a different spin on being single. And it really kicks off a lot of conversation that continues to this day. About different ways of looking at being single and being in a relationship because Quirkyalone has these other sort of fun identities inherent in the book like quirkyslut, and quirkytogether. And so it’s not really about being single. 

Ultimately, it’s about being true to yourself, and a kind of recognition that for some of us being true to ourselves, may mean a whole bunch of time of being single, but it doesn’t mean that that is always the first choice or uncomplicated. But it really gives people a feeling of validation to know that they’re not the only ones who are having that experience. Because at so many points in our lives, we can wind up feeling like something’s wrong with us if we don’t have a partner.

I took your quiz, Sasha, in the book, and yeah, it totally resonated with me. I came up like that. I’m very quirkyalone. 

Can you just tell me, what about the ratio of men to women reaching out to you?

I have always heard from men and women. I’ve done polls of the community over the years, and it’s been pretty consistent. 85% women, 15% men. I haven’t done one in the last few years, but I did want another one five years ago, and it was still like that. So I take that as a pretty consistent number.

You have, well, more women are always interested in self-development, and trying to understand themselves. Perhaps the percentage of quirkyalone men has grown or you know, maybe they just weren’t finding me. 

Of course, women face more stigma about being single, but men have their own struggles. 

I definitely have men who reach out and feel very identified with being quirkyalone. 

It’s not actually a concept of wanting to be alone full stop. It is that thing of being open to a relationship. In chapter four in your book, you said when “settling is not an option,” so it’s very much geared towards being open to a romantic relationship and even marriage, but it’s the concept of not settling for something that isn’t right for you. 

Yeah, I think that that’s what is inherent to quirkyalone is that kind of allergy. Settling is just not really an option. Of course, as one gets older one thinks a lot about, What does it mean to settle? Because you know, if you’re going to try out different relationships, it’s not like ordering a product on Amazon. You can’t necessarily get the one with the specifications that you want.

But I think that we learn that we can settle on the most important things and I would say that’s going to be different for each person. I mean, for me, what’s most important is not settling on how I’m treated. 

For other people like it could be about living situations. They want to have a committed deep relationship with someone but they want to keep living on their own. Alone can be quite troublesome for people. One really lovely man that I coached to was, I don’t know, maybe upper 50s. He really believed that all women would need to get married or live with him if he was going to have a relationship with them. 

Our work was sort of about opening up to the possibility that there could be another quirkyalone woman out there who had the same desires for a strong relationship without cohabitation, necessarily. Many things are possible when you are quirkytogether. 

ABOUT BEING BORN OR MADE AS A QUIRKYALONE

I’m just gonna go to your chapter in the book called “Born or Made?” This is something that I really resonated with. So I’m just going to read out just read out a paragraph here. 

“I call myself a “womb quirkyalone,” because even though intellectually I know that my quirkyalone status must be a complex combination of innateness and experience, it feels innate.

I cannot imagine being any other way.”  Can you just speak more to that for me?

I love that you’re reading from the book. It’s so wonderful for me because I’m like, Who wrote that?

When I wrote the book, it was clear to me that there were people who felt like they had come out of the womb quirkyalone. This is always the way they were. 

And then there were people who came to this realization through life, you know, through a divorce or relationships that sucked the life out of them, or whatever. 

Circumstances prompted them to have a quirkyalone awakening, realizing that it was possible to have a full existence on their own, they would prefer to not settle and you know, be selective and cultivate enjoyment on their own.

For me, it’s one of those funny things because it feels so inherent to who I am. I guess that the circumstances that led me to feel like I’m a “womb quirkyalone” are that I grew up in a town where there were just there was just no one for me to date. You know, I mean, I remember feeling that way. In junior high school. In high school I was really excited to go to debate team meets at another high school, or math team meets at another high school, or the fantasy that my parents would be able to send me to boarding school and I would meet my boyfriend there. 

I had friends. I had a group of female friends who were very tight, but there was nobody for me to date. And so I think it was true then.

I don’t think I was wrong. I think it was accurate as a teenager, because now when I’m living where I grew up, I mean, it’s rare to find someone that I connect with. And, of course, when I went to college, it was true that there were more people that I could see as potentially compatible. And, you know, then I went on and lived in cities that had a lot more dating potential.

But I think that the part of that wombness was also my strong friendships. I always had best friends. I structured my life with groups of friends. 

And I think that there is a difference for a lot of people when they look back at their early lives. Were their early lives shaped by friendships, or by having a boyfriend or girlfriend, or whatever?

For me, I really learned that I could get along with friends and that actually, having a partner is something I deeply want and value. I love being in a relationship. I love sex. I love the challenges that come up in relationship. I’m a relationship geek. I like reading relationship books and taking relationship seminars and I love all of that. I love having those problems to solve. 

But the bigger crisis for me is not having any friends. That’s when actually life is at a crisis point. When I moved to  Buenos Aires  when I was 38, I was living in a city with no friends. That was actually far more uncomfortable for me than not having a boyfriend.

As a quirkyalone, I know very well, how to get along with two or three friends. To do things locally with and not have a boyfriend. I mean, that’s kind of the status quo. It’s okay. It’s not a crisis. It’s not an emergency in the way that not having friends is an emergency. 

ABOUT TURNING FIFTY – AND THE QUESTION, AM I STILL A QUIRKYALONE?

And going back, Sasha, so obviously, this was, this was 25 years ago, as you said, do you still feel it sort of inside? Do you still feel like the same person with regards to the whole quirkyalone thing has or has it has it evolved for you personally, in any way?

Yeah, I actually have an essay that I started to write during the pandemic.  I just went back to it to think like, can I shape something from this? The title of the essay is, “Am I still a quirkyalone?” (NOTE: this essay is still coming. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get it when it’s ready.)

This is a live question for me. Am I still a quirkyalone? And it’s something that I have answered differently even in the last two years.

I keep changing my answer. I think in some way I will always be a quirkyalone because for me being quirkyalone really has nothing to do with being single. I could be married and living together with someone and being a stepmother. I’m just sort of creating a scenario, because I’m not going to be a mother at this point. That train left.

I could have all of those choices set up that would look on the outside traditional and still be “quirkyalone,” because being quirkyalone is this sort of inner flame inside that recognizes that I can have a satisfying existence in a number of different ways. 

Being with the right person who feels internally like a match to me is non-negotiable. That’s just not going to change, that not-settling thing. But I think what I have struggled with as a question many times over the last 10 years, let’s say, is the question of is a romantic relationship for me as a want or a need.

As I have gone through my personal process with that, I have had someone suggest to me well, “Maybe this is a need for you. And you should treat it more seriously as a need.” And not just as sort of icing on top which is the way that I had talked about it like, yeah, I can be perfectly happy and if I have a great relationship, that’s the icing on top of the cake. Is it actually a need for my life, to be in a good relationship? 

In a way, I liked declaring it as a need because it was like yeah, I’m a human being. This is actually a part of me that really wants to be expressed. I really wouldn’t be satisfied with my life without sexual intimacy, without emotional intimacy. I guess at the end of the day, trying to have what I want. I can’t say that I’ve been successful in finding a really long-term (romantic) relationship in the last 10 years. I’ve been in relationships. Now where I am, I don’t have that.

And then I started to think years later, this need thing. It’s kind of a downer. It’s actually not making me feel good to think that way. 

I myself have been going through a sort of awakening and revival. Yeah, appreciating all of the amazingness that is in my life. Turning 50 was really a big part of this. Because actually being single at 50 was a huge fear of mine. Like it had been in my psyche of like, I don’t know, somehow 50 was worse than 40 for being single. And 40 is when I married myself.

But, of course 50 is harder than 40. I think every every decade as you get older, it’s a little bit more serious because it’s like, I’ve lived longer, and there’s more to contemplate. There’s less time and I want to be really intentional about how I am living my life to suck the most juice out of life. 

I have been going through a really interesting period, the last few months of really appreciating how amazing my life is actually. Somebody was asking me if I was happy when I turned 50. And I was like, “I think I’m happy.” And he thought that that was kind of funny. “I think I’m happy” was almost like a comedy line. And I realized that I was holding a back on saying I was happy because I wasn’t I didn’t have the relationship piece that I wanted.

I had this deep thing inside me that said, You can’t say you’re happy because if you do, then you’re never going to get what you want. If you say you’re happy, this is really weird, but I’m admitting this because I wrote Quirkyalone, but I realized that that was still hanging out there.

And so then I really started talking about that with all of my a lot of my friends who are in relationship and how I compare my life to them to them.

I was really doing myself a disservice. Actually I am happy. There’s something about getting to 50, which is like, Wow, this is a lot of hard work turning 50. But I can see the view better. 

A friend of mine was like yeah, it takes 50 years to figure out how to live. I feel like I’m getting there. 

FIfty sparked a lot in me because I wasn’t even sure if I was going to talk about it publicly. That’s a whole other topic about age discrimination and all of those things, but through this reckoning and reflection process, the things that have become clear to me are I am going to talk about being 50 because I have wisdom to share from growing older and especially as it relates to being single. Because this was my biggest boogeyman, being single at 50. 

Now I’m living with it and I’m like oh my life is actually awesome. I was just in Bali. I’m going back to Bali. I’m going to Turkey soon. I’m dancing tango all over the place. My business is a lot of work but it’s growing. I’m creatively expressed. I love this new home that I managed to purchase. I didn’t know that I would ever purchase a home as an artist-healer person. So I’m like wow, you know, actually, it’s okay to say that I’m happy.

It really seems odd that I’m saying this but like is it’s been a really profound thing. 

It sounds like it has but I’m so pleased to hear that you that that’s how you feel that 50. That’s, that’s wonderful. It’s really inspiring. 

Yeah, it really is. And I don’t say that lightly because I was terrified of it. 

There’s a lot of weight that goes along with age. There’s a lot of discrimination. There’s a lot of negative feelings about what it looks like to be in your 50s. 

A lot of my work with tango and the Tango Adventure I used to host in Buenos Aires. It was a lot about showing women a different culture where women in their 60s and 70s are still wearing sequined dresses and going out to dance until 2 am or 4 am. Yeah, any night of the week or you know, that it’s possible to keep living an engaged, sexy life. 

MOTHERHOOD – AND NOT-MOTHERHOOD

Sasha you mentioned children I want to eat would you be happy to talk about about the fact that you don’t have any children and how that sort of looked for you throughout your life?

So the question about children was a big one for me, because I was one of those people who was open-minded about it. And I always thought that if I met the right partner and we got into a serious relationship, that child would be a product of that love.

I did have a gay friend who talked to me at 27 about having a child together if it didn’t work out, you know, in a regular kind of way.

So that question between 35 and 40 was a really big one. For me of you know, will I meet someone? And what choices am I making in life to support or not support, finding a partner and having a child? So it was tough and you know, I’ve coached a number of women through, I call it a dark passageway of being a woman. I think that those ages between 35 and 40 are really tough in a way that isn’t generally recognized because there are biological limits for women and for men too, which people don’t like to acknowledge.

So for me personally, I never felt it like a kick in the stomach of something that I just absolutely had to pursue. I think a lot about decisions because when you are a single woman your life doesn’t follow a regular template. You have the potential to make a lot of decisions about how your life can be and how you use the time and freedom that you have. 

So let’s say I had a kick in the stomach that told me I had to go back to Buenos Aires and dance tango. That was a choice point that I mean, when I was 38. Do I want to stay in the Bay Area, San Francisco, where I was very unhappy, and continue to date, online dating, and maybe I would meet someone? Or do I want to listen to my bodily intuition, that kick in the stomach that is saying you have chronic fatigue syndrome, and the thing that is going to help you is going back to Argentina and living there for a while?

I really struggled with that decision. Ultimately, I listened to what my pussy had to tell me and that’s a story that I’m telling in Wet.

We’re going to get onto that. [Laughter]

When I coach women, I help them figure out how to listen to their pussies for their decisions.

But yeah, my pussy pulsed. My pussy had a pulsing sensation that said yes, go. So I clicked buy on a ticket that I had been struggling to buy. And lo and behold, I moved to Buenos Aires. 

That was back in 2012. And I wound up being there for eight months that time. I came back and I think that after that I kind of had let go of the child dream.

Of course, I think it is around 42 or 43 that one really has to let go because it (having a child) might seem possible until then. So it was this kind of gradual letting go of that as a possibility. I do have to say there was something really good about that of the freedom on the other side. Okay, fuck it. That didn’t happen.

I feel really lucky that I don’t have a terrible grief about that. I think you know Jody Day who created Gateway Women. She helps women who feel that grief. Tthat’s that’s a huge emotional process to let go of, when you when you had more desire than ambivalence. I would say I had more ambivalence than desire.

Because now, to be quite frank, I’m pretty relieved that I don’t have children. I mean, when I look at the news headlines I’m really glad I don’t have to worry about my kids. I also feel that I am a maternal person who’s very loving and caring. When I was 35 to 40, I really had this fear that if I wasn’t a mother, I wouldn’t be a complete woman. Even though intellectually, I wouldn’t have told you that, that fear was running me.

I don’t have that anymore. I feel totally like a woman. I don’t have to be a mother. And I’m very conscious of all the ways that one can be motherly in the world. And like when I run my coaching programs, and I do things for others, I feel like I’m expressing that part of myself that is nurturing. Of course I have parents to care for and other people to care for. So I really feel like I’ve gotten a lot of freedom, as I’ve gotten older, to get out of those structures that are implanted in us that like, you know, to be a woman you have to be XYZ. I have a much broader idea of what being a woman is about now, or let’s say being a loving adult.. A loving, nurturing adult.

And I feel that yeah, I’m doing a good job with that. I can be an emissary of getting older as a good thing. 

Yeah, that’s such a lovely way to put it. You know, you’re you’re nurturing in other ways. It doesn’t have to be towards the child does it? 

Yeah, I heard things like that many times as I was going through those decisions, but it wasn’t until I fully felt that myself and stepped into a much more objective view of myself with more self-respect and stepped out of those narratives that it’s actually been really great. I’ve talked to other women about this, too. There is something good about getting beyond that biological clock window and feeling the freedom of not having that pressure anymore. 

IS THERE A STIGMA AROUND NOT HAVING CHILDREN?

And with regards to pressure did you feel have you felt throughout your life stigma surrounding the fact that you didn’t have children?

You know, I feel that stigma when I’m in settings where everyone else has children. I don’t know if it’s stigma, it’s just feeling weird.

For example, I facilitate groups of executive women for a company called Chief. Sometimes I’ll have a group and they’ll be some single women or some non-mothers, and sometimes they’ll be all mothers. 

Unavoidably one is going to feel a little alien and foreign, because let’s say we do we do an exercise in the first meeting where people write a timeline of their lives, the important events in their lives. So for them, the wedding, the birth of the child, other things that happen like they’re shaping events and their lives. When you don’t have that, and you’re presenting a timeline, it’s different. It does take strength just to say like, yes, my life is different than the norm. There are other meaningful moments. It’s a little bit vulnerable to step out and say, like, oh, yeah, this time when I ran away to Brazil, that was really meaningful for me, because, you know, maybe they’re gonna think that’s very superficial or not as important as having a child or something like that. So I don’t know if that’s stigma, but insecurity.

I’ve been really lucky in my life to surround myself with open-minded people. Being an expat is excellent for a person who doesn’t fit the norms because expats by their nature don’t. When I lived in Buenos Aires for six years, one of the best things about it is that my friends were people who also left their countries of origin. They were entrepreneurial, they were creative. They’re doing something different with their lives. That really helps. 

If you are around everyone else doing the expected stuff, I think it’s a challenge. But also the people who do the expected stuff, they have their own questions. It’s so interesting being a coach because I hear from people who are clients, who did all of the expected things, and then they’re wondering, did I really even want any of this? Like, you know, maybe I was just following along with what society wanted from me. 

I would say that being a life coach and having so much access to what’s really going on for people has been very helpful for me in my own personal journey because it helps me see that I have been quite intentional. And it’s not like I just did some like paint by numbers. A strength of my life is that it has been chosen.

WHAT IS SELF-MARRIAGE, AND WHAT IS SOUL COMMITMENT?

Thank you for sharing that. Thank you. Now, you did just briefly touch on this idea that you married yourself. Could you just tell us why that was and what that looks like for you?

I married myself when I was 40. I did it in Buenos Aires because I felt more comfortable there, but I had tango friends who joined in the ceremony.

I learned about self-marriage when I wrote Quirkyalone. In that book, there are some interviews with women who married themselves. Self-marriage always seems to be this concrete, artistic manifestation of the ideals of Quirkyalone. You’re committing to love yourself and honor yourself as you would hope a partner would.

It didn’t really make sense to me personally until I was around 40. I had been doing a lot of healing work. There was sort of deep stuff that I had to reckon with from my past that actually was childhood trauma, sexual trauma that happened that I had never addressed and that’s really the story that’s underneath Wet. The stuff that had not been looked at and dealing with it.

So I had been going through that process, which was very difficult. I guess I was thinking a lot about my shadow because I was thinking about shame and aspects of myself that were difficult for me that I didn’t want to talk about or that I didn’t want to have known by a partner or family. Ways that I kept myself hidden. 

I’d been doing all this therapeutic work. Suddenly the self-marriage idea felt like a way to take all this work I had been doing in therapy and do something with it in a kind of celebratory way, to commit to loving all parts of me. Jung has been important in my work. I talked about Jung in the first quirkyalone essay. My work has a lot to do with overcoming shame, healing shame. And for me, this self-marriage was a ritual of healing shame, and stepping into acceptance of all of me.

I did it with two tango friends, one from Colombia and one from Estonia. The one from Colombia had already married herself very casually like a year before. She just went out and bought a ring. And that was that. 

And then the friend from Estonia was younger and it didn’t make sense to her at the time. But she actually married herself after having two children and divorcing. She went back and married herself in Estonia years later and became an advocate in Estonia on TV for self-marriage. 

So it was a very quirky group of women and the three of us we did it in the Japanese Gardens in Buenos Aires. It was very peaceful. I wanted something very peaceful. You see a lot of media pictures of self-marriages where they’re big. The woman is wearing a white dress and you know, there’s 100 people there. This was not my style. I don’t think I want that if I get married to a man. I like small things. I’m a highly sensitive person.

It was a very small ceremony. We had sushi afterwards. We spent the day together. 

I think what’s really beautiful about self-marriage is that when you’re in the presence of someone who’s doing a self-marriage ceremony it’s very uplifting to everyone because you’re on this channel of self-commitment.

I’ve been calling it soul-commitment. I have this new experience with self-marriage this last few months because I have this group coaching program Turned-On Living. We’re together for a whole year. 

Every month has a theme. November was the soul commitment month. We chose to call it soul commitment because most of the women in the group were not that comfortable with the term “self-marriage” or it didn’t resonate for them. In the media, this idea of soul commitment was circulating and that resonated for them more. Basically it was the same thing. 

We constructed ceremony and rituals. They had music that they chose to pussywalk down the aisle. It was part of this three-day retreat that we did, as the final event culminating the weekend and the year. And my God, it was really beautiful to be at a group soul-commitment ceremony. 

Wow, that takes it to a whole other level because when you have a group of people committing, a group of women, but I think it could equally men could do this.

Committing to themselves and reading their vows out loud to each other and then dancing to songs they had chosen to step into those vows. It was one of the top ten experiences of my life really. It wasn’t my soul commitment. It was theirs. And I guess that’s what I mean about being a mother. I’m like the mother of this soul commitment ceremony for five women.That’s awesome.

PUSSYWALKING AND SENSUALITY COACHING FOR WOMEN

Now Sasha, you’ve just mentioned pussywalking. So if we can go on to so you’re you are a sensuality coach, aren’t you for women? Who are both single and partnered or married? Can you just tell me a little bit more about that sort of the the type of women that you work with what sort of work you’re doing with them?

I do love calling myself a sensuality coach in addition to a life coach or executive coach, because I have such an interest in the body. I feel that connecting with our bodies is such an important part of knowing who we are and feeling good. Feeling good is really a big part of my philosophy.

Life is not easy. There will be challenges but it’s really important to fuel ourselves with pleasure, and believe that we’re worthy of pleasure. And there can be sensuality coaching for women who are totally single. 

I think this is something that’s quite unique about me is that I have been associated with single women for so much of my career, and I’m very interested in sex and sensuality, how to amp up that part of our lives, whether we’re dating or whether we’re alone.

I like to talk about sexual energy and body connection to really empower us to know that we can be in connection with our sexual energy no matter what is going on in our lives, and that can be used for the good of our own expression being just how we feel everyday life walking down the street. 

PUSSYWALKING AND THE CENTERING OF WOMEN (WHILE INCLUDING MEN)

So pussywalking is a methodology that I created. That is, you know, it’s for any kind of person and in fact, I just taught one pussywalking workshop that included a man. So let’s say, single women, married women, partnered women. dating women, married men, single men, everybody could learn to pussywalk.

The focus is on female anatomy. Like all of my work, I center women, because we are decentered in general and so many aspects of life. 

So pussywalking came from my study of tango and my travels in South America and my immersion in the study of female sexuality and sensuality for empowerment. So it brings forward this knowledge that the clitoris is not just this little button on the outside like we were taught.

isn’t it the size of a medium, I know that you guys call them, eggplants? We call them aubergines over here.

Right, so inside our bodies, that clitoris is this whole structure that encircles the vaginal canal. Which could be seen as a vegetable. [Laughter.] And people use that analogy. 

All of it is nerve endings that can be activated. So pussywalking is a process of awakening the energy that is inside our bodies through those nerve endings. So it’s becoming more commonly known that women have in the clitoral glans, which is that little button, more nerve endings for pleasure than any other organ male or female, and that doesn’t include all the nerve endings that are inside. So this is just a tremendously sensitive organ. 

Basically pussywalking is an invitation to wake up that pussyenergy, which I teach through breathing and visualization of what actually is inside your body. And then using that awareness and energy as a focal point when a woman walks. 

I’ve been teaching pussywalking now for 10 years, which is pretty amazing. And I’ve been doing it on the down low a lot of that time because I was like, Oh my God. How was I going to talk about pussywlking? 

I had discovered this secret superpower of being a woman because I did a lot of sexual exploration. When I lived in San Francisco I was a part of a lot of workshops doing very outside-the-box stuff that activated put the energy or even taught me to say the word “pussy” because I definitely didn’t grow up saying word “pussy” at all. I had a lot of resistance to that.

I found through the cultivation out of that energy that I got this real boost that put me in the present moment, gave me a lot of radiant energy and gave me a lot of confidence. I used it for interviews that I went on. And there was one particular day when I was just shining with my pussy energy at this insurance company where they wanted me for corporate coaching. I was totally inexperienced at the time, but I nailed it. Like really well. It worked really, really well.

On the way out. I was in the elevator, and this guy said to me, “You look like you’re enjoying your life. And whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” 

And because now that I’ve been teaching pussywalking to women, over the years, I have evidence of other women hearing similar.

The same thing to them, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”

We actually have this “Dancing in the Woods” part of the Turned-On Living retreat last month. 

A guy walked by with his dog, and when he saw us dancing in the woods, he said, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”  So there’s something about connecting with this pussy energy which puts people in a good place.

The other thing I might add is that as along with the empowerment side of things, it can also help with your posture, can’t it? So how did you how did you actually discover that? Was that something that you you were walking along and it just came to you that that was what you were doing? I mean, because pussywalking is like a form of meditation. Almost, isn’t it? Because it because you’re you’re concentrating your energy within a part of your body as you walk. 

Well, the truth is that I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Oakland. I was practicing orgasmic meditation. And so I was doing a sexual spiritual practice, which is all about stroking very lightly the clitoris for 15 minutes and in a very structured container, a partner practice, as someone else was doing it. So this is like a whole other story and it is a complicated story because I learned it at a place that now I think would very clearly be called a sex cult. 

So pussywalking is a sort of extraction of the gems and wisdom that I got from going into these very edgy places that I wouldn’t send people to. That’s the tough thing about a lot of this sexual empowerment stuff. Many of the places… I’m a student of Tantra, I’m a student of Taoist sexuality, and I am very deep in all of this stuff. 

As a coach, I’m kind of a conduit of that information, delivering it in a safe, ethical way. A problem in this world is that a lot of those places are run by people who manipulate and take advantage of power because sexual energy is so powerful and people are very ripe for exploitation. It just happens that way. And it’s almost universal, how many stories there are of abuse that happen within places that teach sexuality. Very unfortunate.

So, yeah, this is a tricky part of the story, and I’m still figuring out how to tell it because the truth is that my pussy was very awakened because of the wonderful work that I got to do practicing orgasmic meditation at a place that had significant dark side. 

So the story… it was in my own life when I was going to this job interview and you know, I was like, wow, my pussy is on autopilot. Like I had gotten so much good attention down there. The labia were like, friends with each other. I was like, I’m walking and I feel like I’m having slow spiritual sex. That was the feeling really being in tune with my pussy. 

I’m a very sensitive type and energetic and like, I like sex when you’re hardly even moving. Let’s say like, your partner’s inside. You barely even moving and that can create this kind of delicious ultra-aliveness, and that was the feeling I had that was sort of the birth of pussywalking. So it’s not like oh my God, I’m having an orgasm. It’s not like that. You know, it’s sort of deliciousness that feels very alive and awake and pleasurable.

MEN AND PUSSYWALKING, OR MALE PUSSYWALKING AND MALE PUSSYENERGY

Sasha, you mentioned that men can do this as well.

Yeah, I know. It’s very mind-boggling to think about.

I love it. 

So, when I was in Bali in September and October, I taught a pussywalking workshop, and I hired a videographer. I’m editing those videos now. And as part of that small group of people in the workshop we had a man and so it’s going to be really fascinating when the video is ready to share because we have this male pioneer pussywalking. 

I’ve had very many men be interested in pussywalking, so I always thought that it would be cockwalking, but after a lot of thinking and study of this, I think what it is, is that it’s male pussywalking. As we’ve learned from books, a lot of people learn from Come As You Are, that the female genitalia and the way that our (female) sexual organs are expressed are an internal manifestation. Men have their pussy energy on the outside.

There’s a similar feeling of aliveness and subtle energetic awakening that can happen for men. And it’s the same place in their bodies. It’s also in the pelvis and the central organizing wheel of the body. 

And so, you know, for men, I think it’s this fascinating doorway about feeling connected with their sexual energy, but not going toward hard-on. Like this is something totally different, which, you know, many doors are opened in Tantra and Tao is sexuality about cultivating orgasm without ejaculation. Male pussywalking would be yet another cultivation of this aliveness and breathing down there and circulating that energy throughout the body. But without a goal. That’s very important for women. There’s also no goal other than just the experience itself.

It was absolutely unbelievable to have this man in the workshop because he said what you said he said. He’d read many books about posture, and that pussywalking was the simplest and most efficient way to improve his posture. He also felt all of these other benefits from pussywalking of slowing down and he was there with his wife. He felt it was something he could use to get out of work mode, being an engineer, and transition into more presence, being with other people or being with his wife, and also just being like a sensitive, strong male with a sexual energy but not in an aggressive way. 

I think that’s why the male pussywalking is a better thing to talk about than cockwalking. Because pussyenergy is not weak. Definitely not. But it’s also not going to overpower anyone. It’s more about autonomous power. 

Yes, yes. Because what I’ve sort of gleaned from from your work and from everything that you do, and that’s just going back to that sort of thing of dominance and also women feeling ashamed of their sexuality. I mean, that’s an inherent thing that we have historically felt. 

What I have felt from your work is that you’ve taken that very thing that we have been taught to be ashamed of, and turned it into the thing that gives you empowerment and freedom.

Thank you for seeing that.

ABOUT MY MEMOIR-IN-PROGRESS WET

So on that note, moving on from pussies to Wet. Can you tell us about your memoir, and I know that this is a story of healing through sensuality, isn’t it? 

I have been working on this book for at least 11 years now. And it took me four years to really understand what it was about. 

So on the surface level, this is a memoir about my decision to leave Silicon Valley and follow a bodily impulse to go to Brazil, which then led to a whole big long wander in South America with a ton of sexual and sensual experiences. I felt called to go to South America because I very much wanted to get away from screens and Silicon Valley. 

I wanted to be in my body and there was something about I just wanted to be in a sexy place. In the beginning, it was just like, you know, Dating isn’t working and I just need to feel alive and that was the first call. So basically, the story is about all of the different things that happens when first I was looking for happiness, let’s say through men, and a lot of different sexual experiences that weren’t turning into what I ultimately wanted. With boundaries being crossed and repeating patterns and you know, ultimately feeling stuck like unlovable and and kind of patterns that I had already been dealing with. 

And then the book or my story goes to Colombia where I discovered tango. Tango becomes this kind of training ground of learning how to find alignment and balance and true self-respect through being in my center and using the metaphor of dance as a way of how to have a healthy relationship with myself and with another person. 

So what’s going on in the background of all of this is healing the impacts of childhood sexual abuse and that was the thing that I didn’t want to look at and I was four years into the book where I started I was working with someone on a coaching about story using the hero’s journey structure from Joseph Campbell. That’s when I finally realized it. In the Hero’s Journey, you have to hit certain points like, Here’s where the character dies. Here’s where the character dies again, like there’s the ultimate lowest moment in the story. Every movie somehow follows this formula. 

I realized that like all the low moments were emotionally related to the impact of that early trauma that I never wanted to look at. So tango became a way of healing all those sensual experiences were a way of healing. I have such a big respect in a way for sex and for sensuality, learning through things through our bodies. Because we live in bodies.

A lot of people find healing and yoga. A lot of people have stories about healing from abuse through yoga. My way was through all this sex and tango. So the book is all about that.

And about all the things we’ve been talking about, about being a woman whose life did not conform to the norms, and making peace with that and walking tall instead of shrunken.

So there’s a lot with pussywalking that is about expansion. Not being ashamed, not hiding breasts, all of that stuff. Wet is really the story of that for me, because even though I was the Quirkyalone author, and people saw me as an empowering role model, I had a lot of shame that I was working through.

Shame is in the body. It’s Body Keeps the Score-stuff, you know that we internalize trauma and it makes us smaller and it has to be worked on through the body. You can’t just talk about it. You actually have to get in there and feel it and for some of us, like change how we are inside our bodies.

FINDING ANSWERS THROUGH OUR BODIES

And you have you work with people who say that, don’t you?

Yeah, I mean, I, as a coach, I always have to find a line between what is therapy and what is coaching.

But I come in as the piece of working with your body and connecting with your body. And finding, feeling and answers through what your body is telling you. 

People are different. People learn in different ways. For me and the people who are attracted to me as clients, we’re very kinesthetic people. 

For me, a lesson gets anchored in the body. I feel something differently. I feel it in tango. It’s all about like finding a posture that will allow for the energy to flow from one person to the other. And if one person is stooping, or falling over, or not respecting themselves, the energy gets cut. 

For example, finding that posture of alignment and pride that allows the energy to flow. For me that was an anchoring in my body of like, oh, this is what it’s like to be in a relationship and not lose myself. This is what it’s like to be in a relationship and hold my ground. This isn’t I was like to be in a relationship and not people-please in a very big way and lose myself so. That feeling of it physically, in a different way of holding my body is very effective and the people who are attracted to me want to do that. They also feel that way.

CULTIVATING SEXUAL ENERGY WHEN YOU ARE SINGLE 

Wonderful. So such as something that something else that I did want to ask you is as single women, how do we cultivate our sexuality? If we don’t have a partner? Like what would what would your advice be to single women? 

Okay, so I think that the first advice is just to ask this question of yourself, How do I as a single woman cultivate my sexuality? 

Because already this is opening the door and saying that this is possible. 

Because I think for a lot of people, the longer that goes by when you don’t have sex, it’s not flowing in that way. It’s very easy to think, Ooh, that’s just not for me, or I have to be in a relationship in order to explore my sexuality. This is a very strong idea that most people have: they think exploring your sexuality happens within a relationship.

I would say this is pretty different for me. I have always had a very strong feeling that I’m exploring my sexuality, no matter what. So I think already taking that stand for yourself is pretty big and opens a lot of doors to workshops. You could read books, things you can watch on Netflix, so already having it as important is a big step. Then I think it depends on where you are in your journey in terms of what’s next for you.

We have solo sex so you know already there it’s sort of opening the idea that like you can have sex with yourself. And that can also be a journey. This is something I’m personally very interested. First of all, a lot of women have problems with self-pleasure or masturbation because of a number of things. 

They might have come up in religious families where there could be a feeling that it’s wrong to do. 

Or it’s just not inspiring. It’s boring. It’s rote. It’s not unusual that someone could find it boring after a while, if you’re just by yourself.

But the cultivation of our sensuality is not just about getting to orgasm. And it is really something to give yourself to explore for example, a night in that is very sensual.

I have an exercise called the Visiting Dignitary which is basically playing this game with yourself and saying that a queen is coming to visit. You’re going to pick out something to satisfy everything of her senses. So something visual, something sound, something taste, something, I don’t know all the senses, plus something conceptual. Basically, it gets you to create a beautiful atmosphere. 

And then the trick is, Oh, the Queen canceled her visit. So the visiting dignitary is you. So you’ve created this lovely, sensual atmosphere for yourself. 

And then step two of this could be seducing yourself in the mirror. It could be, being in a self pleasure session that is more sensual with music. For example, Sensual Tantra Beats is a new good one that I discovered on Spotify.

I have a list of Sensual Resources. So if I’m thinking about putting it out there if people want it then then maybe this would help with this question. 

Yeah. 

(You can request the list here.)

What I’m giving you is a night in to dedicate to yourself and your sensuality and your sexuality. 

And you know, beyond that there can be the exploration of different sex toys. Different kinds of orgasms. Different kinds of sexual experiences you can have with yourself. I fully understand from my life experience that probably most people don’t only want to have solo sex and you probably do want to have sex with others. 

And yet, you will have better sex if you have solo sex with yourself, you will get to know yourself and you may have amazing experiences. So I wouldn’t say this is the only way but it’s like, I think really firmly putting the flag in the ground was like yeah, I’m single and I don’t have a partner and I’m still sexual. I can have solo sex. And there’s a bunch of other things I can do. I can go to workshops, I can go on a sexy vacation. 

I think it’s really important to do that because the sexual instinct dries up and it goes away and it just becomes distant. And so I mean, on the one hand is a drag to have to kind of consciously cultivate this on your own. I guess the the saving grace is a lot of couples struggle with this as well and there are a lot of people are in sexless marriages. So it’s kind of the same challenge that people in long-term relationships face about how to keep it fresh and how to keep it alive. 

It’s just not talked about as much though, is it?

No, we talk about couples drying up but gee, what happens when you’re on your own?

 Exactly. It’s funny you saying about the the I read an article the other day, and it was so interesting. The author was interviewing women between 20 and 70. So they were all in their own decades. I think it was the lady in in her 40s. She described how she taken herself away for a night in a hotel. She taken all of her sex toys with her. She got dressed up and went downstairs for a meal. She said that in the dining room there very much an opportunity arose. There was a guy in the room that she said, you know, she could have ended up having sex with him, but she chose her original plan which was to go back up, have a bath, and have her evening to herself. I was so inspired by that because you don’t read these things. You don’t see these things enough. And it’s and I think that’s really important to put across to single women. 

And another point that I would make is about learning about yourself and about what you like.

Surely that can then be taken into a relationship as maybe a form of confidence. You know, we are very people0pleasing. I know that a lot of women, most of them have probably experienced a sexual situation where it’s li okay, that’s it’s not really for me, so to be able to say to a partner, I like this. I don’t like that.  I think that that could really help somebody to explore themselves. 

Yeah. 100%

I mean, I think that the quality of connection that we can have with another person is very related to the quality of knowledge that we have of our own bodies and what knowing more about what we enjoy. I think that’s the most important thing. I can fall into this trap myself too. There can be a lot of tons of shame around sex, obviously, like especially the English culture, the American culture. These are cultures with so much repression and shaming around sex. And so even the idea of like when I say sex is important for you, whether you’re single or a couple or whatever, and that it’s a good thing to want to learn about sex. It doesn’t mean that there’s a deficiency. It means that you have a learning and growth mindset.

We have a sexuality and sensuality month in Turned-On Living. 

I was quite conscious about wanting us to adopt that as our mindset because otherwise, there can just be this feeling of defensiveness, or “No I’m okay,” or “Nothing wrong with my sexuality,” or you know, and really feeling inadequate. Either I’ve had too many partners. I haven’t had enough partners. There’s just so many ways to feel bad and broken. 

And the reality is that in some way, this is an exciting time because I would say in the arena of sexuality, there are more and more books, more sex toys, more resources than there ever had been before. 

If anyone wants that list of sexuality and sensuality resources, email me and I’ll point you to it because I created this list for the Turned-On Living group, and wow, there’s a ton of things you can do for a whole yearlong program. 

You can look at OMGYes which is videos of women who show how they touch themselves to climax and they talk about it so it’s very interesting, evidence-based stuff about how women achieve climax.

This is, you know, very explicit, and very much to learn from other women about what helps them and the individuality of each person.

And then you have something like the Erotic Blueprints which was created by this woman Jaiya, which is all these sort of different types that a person can be sexually like you could be an energetic, could be a sensual. You could be a sexual, which is what we normally think of as sex. Or kinky. 

Sex, Love & Goop is a great series. That leads people through all these different problems and coaching that they get around their body and sexuality. I don’t that sort has been a time when there’s been more about sexuality and sensuality that’s available to us.

It’s still it’s quite a rare interest. I’m realizing now I’m a sex geek, like I’ve always been into this.

This is kind of my thing.

But more and more people are getting are exploring that way. And I mean, I would say that’s a good thing about today. 

Just actually you just mentioned though I’m aware of the time.

WHAT IS TURNED-ON LIVING? AND WHAT I DO WITH MY CLIENTS

Because we were chatting beforehand as well, wasn’t it? Um, Sasha, you just mentioned about turned-on living. And so you’re a life and executive coach for women. 40-plus, aren’t you, helping with turned-on lives, careers and businesses? Can you just give me that in a nutshell what you’re what you’re doing.

So I talked about Turned-On Living as a way of talking about people living authentically and in ways that feel true to them and exciting. Turned-On Living is also this group program that I started last year and I’ll run the second year of soon. And it’s really a philosophy I would say a body connection and tuning into your body as a way of knowing your true feelings, emotions, desires.

I created this curriculum that goes for 12 months with different topics from self compassion, to boldness to prioritizing pleasure, sexuality and sensuality, anti-people-pleasing is a big one. 

So I find that a lot of my clients have this tendency of being more nice than they want to be. And that has a way of draining turn on or lifeforce energy when you’re doing things you don’t really want to do.

My work is about empowerment, and there’s this body connection. Some of my clients are executives and very high level and then I have clients who are not that and are regular people.

WORKING WITH SENSUALITY AND SEXUALITY, AT EVERY AGE

But and I really I love working with people who have this openness to their body connection and if they want to talk about sensuality, sexuality, yes. I mean, it’s, it’s funny. It’s just one of my greatest joys in life is helping someone to have better sex lives.

I love it. I love turning women on and especially single women to the possibility of connecting with their own sexuality and sexual energy because otherwise is this feeling that we’re left to die on the vine. Especially as we get older, and it’s like, Do you get to still feel alive? 

Yes, you do. Like, of course, and there are women who specifically focused on sex for older people, and they’re doing this work too. (See Joan Price.) Like you said before, somewhere in our conversation, we can just get better we can know ourselves more we can have different sex, better sex. We can feel more.

I see sex as an infinite journey, that there’s always more to uncover and experience. 

There is absolutely and especially with different partners as well. Everybody is different. So Sasha, thank you so much. I have enjoyed this conversation. So, so much, I really have.

HOW TO STAY IN TOUCH

Could you just just let us know, where can people find you and also, if they wanted you to email the list as well?

Go to my website, sashacagen.com, go to the newsletter page and sign up there because that’s the best way to be in touch also can follow me on Instagram but the newsletter is where I really share with people.

If you want that list, then just send me an email. Once you’re on the newsletter list, we’ll be in contact. 

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Reading two prologues for Wet in Ubud, Bali, at the Hidden Space Cafe: Which one captivates you more?

I came to Bali for these past two months to immerse myself in my writing, specifically, to make progress on Wet, a very dear-to-me memoir I have been working on for a long time. I am very pregnant with this book after 12 years of working on it in isolation, and I am excited to share it with you soon. Don’t ask me when, but I suspect I may be in the final trimester.

The best way I can describe this book as a mashup is Eat Pray Love meets The Body Keeps the Score meets Quirkyalone.

Eat Pray Love because it’s a spiritual journey where the lessons happen through travel in South America, and through an adventure of sensuality, from wearing a bikini for the first time in public at the age of 36 to letting my boundaries be crossed at a Love Motel in Brazil in a complicated threesome. There’s a lot more making out than in EPL, however! LOL.

The Body Keeps the Score because it’s the story of healing buried childhood trauma (sexual abuse) through connecting to the wisdom of my body (and tango).

Quirkyalone because this book is in a follow-up to my first one, where I wrestle with being single at midlife, the shame of never having a romantic relationship last longer than six months, and how I began to heal the effects of that trauma and open myself up to a deeper love.

Part of writing a book is getting lots of feedback along the way. All writing projects require iteration, both from the writer’s own gut instinct about how to tell  the story, and from early readers who let us know what’s resonating and where they stumble.

Last week I had the chance to participate in a reading series in Ubud, where I have spent most of the last two months. I chose Ubud for this creative retreat for a million reasons. “Ubud” means “medicine” or “healing.” This is a healing place, and healing is what Wet is all about.

I decided to use the reading as a kind of writing group.

I created a game of sharing two different prologues with the audience. I asked them to tell me which one captivated them more. The function of a prologue is to sketch out the story in the book, and entice the reader to want to turn the page and begin chapter one. So captivation is key!

You can see a short clip of the first two minutes of my reading below in this blog post or here.

If you would like to play along in the game, and hear me read the two prologues in their entirety, and tell me what captivates you more, I would love that.

To get access, you need to be part of the WET INNER CIRCLE. You can sign up to be part of it here.

What is the WET INNER CIRCLE and why am I sharing the longer video of me reading these two prologues only with people who are on that list?

When working on a long project, it’s a delicate matter to determine what to share with whom. I don’t want to share all the messy details of the intimate creative process with the whole Internet, people who don’t get it, or are not interested. That kind of indiscriminate sharing does not appeal to me.

I do want to share with people who are genuinely interested in this book and creative process, and well, thirsty for it! People who are a soul fit.

If you are part of the WET INNER CIRCLE, you will also get a sneak peek into the creative process, and hopefully, a little more wet. We’ll discover together what that means.

After you sign up, I will send you an email asking you a key question, so stay tuned.

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Live from Ubud, Bali–Learn about Turned-On Living with me on a Community Zoom!

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After taking a two-year break from working on my latest book Wet (because I was severely burned out on this project–let’s say, I had even grown DRY), I came to Bali to work on the manuscript again, because I had an intuition that spending two months on this very special island could help me get this project out into the world.

Things are going well enough in my creative work that I am feeling the freedom to come out of my cave of isolation and take time to connect with you, my dear readers and clients, past, present and future, about Turned-On Living, in a LIVE ZOOM from BALI!

What is TURNED-ON LIVING? My new and favorite way to explain Turned-On Living goes like this.

We all have a light inside of us. That inner flame can be strengthened through care, attention, and community support, or it can go dark in all the pressures of modern life in an individualist society, when our inner critic takes control, and when we are focused purely on checking off our ever-expanding to-do lists. Our lists also go dark when we don’t have clarity about what we really want or boundaries to protect what is most precious to us.

Turned-On Living is my yearlong small group coaching program that brings together women who resonate with my work: my books Quirkyalone and To-Do List, the embodiment practice Pussywalking that I created to help women  step into their power, and my philosophy about living your life to the fullest whether you are single or partnered.

Turned-On Living teaches you how to keep your inner candle lit, so that you can live a turned-on life, whatever that looks like for you. It will also help you get clear about what you really want for your life, through connecting with your body. We do this work together, while practicing being vulnerable and real, in community.

Is Turned-On Living of interest to you? A new small group of women will begin this life-changing adventure with me again in September.

Turned-On Living is about the long game of transformation. I don’t believe in quick fixes or that epiphanies can do the work of change for us. Because it’s a big deal to spend a whole year together, I want to start the conversation now, early.

My eyes and ears are “casting” the group, bringing together the right mix of people to support each other. I have in-depth interviews with each person to create the right chemistry in the group of safety and care.

So here’s the plan. Let’s start the conversation now in April to create the magic.

On Tuesday, April 9, at 8 pm ET, 5 pm PT… let’s connect on Zoom! Sign up here.

What: A Live Zoom about Turned-On Living from Bali.

What we will do: First, we will dance, because we start every Turned-On Living meeting with dancing.

Then I will walk you through the curriculum of what we do in Turned-On Living, month-by-month. Each month has a theme, so I will tell you about  what you will get out of each experiential adventure (from Embodied Self-Compassion and Prioritizing Pleasure to Anti-People-Pleasing and Boldness).

I’ll point out a few commonalities that I am seeing in the Balinese approach to life and spirituality and my approach in Turned-On Living. Now that I have spent seven weeks total on this island (between my first trip in September 2023 and this current one), I am forming impressions about what makes Bali so special. There’s a lot to learn from Balinese people, who truly operate according to “karma.”

You can ask me any questions you have… and we’ll chat!

When: Tuesday, April 9, 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.

I’ll get up early to share with you at 8 am Ubud time. I can show you some scenes of the extremely green, beautiful rice fields where I am staying in the very unique neighborhood Penestanan.

How long: We will go for about an hour, maybe 75 minutes. Be sure to come on time! If you can’t make it, you will get a recording. But you need to sign up to get it.

Why join? If you are interested in Turned-On Living, if you are interested in Bali, if you want to connect.

See you there!

xo

Sasha

P.S.  The deadline to apply to be part of the TOL 2024 group starting in September is July 1.

Spaces are limited because everything I do is intimate. Do you already feel called to be part of this? To get the ball rolling and secure your place, fill out this form and tell me more about you.

Preparing for a Water Purification Ritual, led by Luh, a Balinese spiritual guide

Luh leading me down the path to the water temple in a part of Ubud that has until now escaped notice from tourists… ahhhhh

  My friend Naja invited me to his temple, and I was the only non-Balinese person among more than 2,000 people present for a ceremony that coincided with the New Moon in March. Naja said it’s fine to share photos, and Luh agreed. I felt very privileged to be there. I’ll be sharing more about that experience in a separate blog post.

At work in Bali in the heat.

At Nirwa Homestay, one of the lovely places where I have stayed over the last month

This photo was taken on Organic Sari Walk. The sunsets along Ubud’s rice fields are stunning.

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“Body-shamed” in Singapore

No make-up, fresh off the overnight plane. Marc happened to take this picture so you can see the dress.

A good foot massage is one of my favorite things.

The day after I landed in Singapore, my friend Marc and I went hunting for a foot massage place as part of our walking tour. I needed some TLC after a rough overnight trip from Istanbul, a small excursion that wouldn’t take too much out of me since I had barely slept. When someone massages my feet, especially when they push certain pressure points, my entire body relaxes, often putting me to sleep.

We both agreed it was a good plan.

We walked through a small mall filled with tailors, maid service agencies matching Singaporean clients with domestic workers from Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Phillippines, and lots of foot massage places, not unlike the kind you find in California where the client sits in a chair with his or her feet up.

We finally settled on one that could accommodate both of us. Marc likes to pick places that are highly rated online. My method is to choose randomly. Risk-taking: roll the dice. Usually, my approach works. Well, this day it didn’t.

My male therapist gestured for me to sit down in the chair, and asked, “Are you pregnant? I need to know for massage.”

What? Flummoxed, I didn’t respond. The shock on my face must have been his answer. Did this guy not get the memo? Don’t ask a woman if she is pregnant ever! This is not a good question. The last person who asked me if I was pregnant was a seven-year-old girl who lived in my apartment building in Buenos Aires. I never forgot that moment in the elevator. Marc joked later that you should only ask a woman if she is pregnant if the baby is already crowning (coming out).

It got worse, if you can believe it. A red, blue, and yellow foot sign flashed near the door. I asked him to turn it off midway because the lights agitated me. I wasn’t resting during the massage, as I hoped I would. When the hour was over, he asked my age.

“You are doing good.” He told me I looked five years younger than I am. “Eat well, sleep well, little back pain, you can tell everything from the feet.”

Two-thirds of those things are true. I eat well and occasionally suffer from lower back pain, and I sleep okay. I feel ambivalent when people tell me I look younger than I am. Like most people, I enjoy compliments but what’s wrong with looking one’s age? Little did I know that it was remarkable for this man to pay me a compliment at all.

“You have a spare tire,” he said.

“What?” I asked. My jaw must have actually dropped.

“Fat.”

“What!” He called me fat! Or told me I “have fat.” I was speechless, but I couldn’t stop asking, “What?”

Marc said later that he wished I would stop asking questions so the conversation would end, but I couldn’t. This foot massage had turned into a car crash.

He continued, “Exercise. You have to take care of it,” pointing to my waist and then his own, “Exercise is the only way.”

Yeah, dude, I know about exercise.

Marc paid for both of us, thank goddess; I didn’t want to pay a Singaporean cent for his mediocre massage, which put far more tension into my body than it relaxed!

When we got outside, we obviously had to dissect the horror of what had just happened.

“Do you think I should go back and tell him off?” I asked. “If I speak up, maybe I will feel better.”

“You could, but I don’t think it would matter. He hears and says that kind of thing a hundred times a day. It’s the culture in Singapore. It’s the water they swim in. This is how people talk to each other.” In essence, Marc was saying that in Singapore, people think they are doing each other a favor by pointing out each other’s flaws.

“Do I look fat?”

“Your body is fine. Come on.”

My mind was still reeling. Did he actually call me fat? Did that just happen?

Marc has lived and worked in Singapore for seven years. “I have a friend who works with a personal trainer,” he told me. “She had to sit down with him over a drink and tell him that she wasn’t coming to him for comments about her body. That’s not what she wanted out of personal training. He stopped but only after she had to have a separate meeting with him to get him to understand.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s probably not worth it to confront him because I don’t have an ongoing relationship with him.”

Singapore is a multi-ethnic society, and people of Chinese ancestry make up about three-quarters of the population. I started connecting the dots between what had just happened to me and stories I have heard from Chinese-American friends and clients who have shared with me about their parents relentlessly criticizing them, as if pointing out flaws is how you express love. Now I had felt the sting of it myself. What I experienced was miniscule compared to what they have gone through, but it was a taste. Ouch.

“They actually seem to think they are helping by criticizing,” I said. Of course, people in the U.S. also criticize each other’s bodies, but we are more likely to do it silently inside our own minds. It’s a very common thought error in the U.S. to believe that we are going to improve when we call out our own “flaws.” As a life coach, some of the most important work I do with my clients is to help people replace (or partially replace) their inner critic voice with a more compassionate, gentle, supportive one. Change takes root when we are kind to ourselves because we get stronger rather than weaker.

Marc pointed out that it could be valuable for me to have had this experience because it would help me to empathize with Chinese-American friends and clients. That’s true.

He urged me to not give his comments any power. Anyone can say anything to us, but only we can decide whether to remember their words or give those comments weight (pun intended).

Of course, Marc was right but I couldn’t let go of the doubts immediately. I’m human. I’m dealing with my own aging body over here, just like everyone else. For the rest of the afternoon, I kept looking in mirrors as we passed glassy buildings and mirrors in shops to check out how the dress, a piece of clothing that I actually adore, looks on my middle. It’s the perfect travel dress because it’s lightweight, easy to pack, and never wrinkles. I also consider it a sexy dress. Did it accentuate my belly? Should I still wear it at all? Had I gained weight? I hadn’t stepped on a scale in two weeks because I was traveling.

I’m proud to say that I let all these questions go by the next day, and I’m no longer giving that man any real estate in my mind.

The truth is I have spent the last fifteen years engaged in a journey of learning how to see myself as beautiful after a mild case of body dysmorphia (a mental health label for fixating on perceived flaws in your own appearance). No one gave me that diagnosis, but I would say body dysmorphia is cultural in the U.S. too because we are taught to see our bodies as projects to fix.

After a few days, I came back to my own hard-won baseline, feeling good about myself as a luscious, unskinny woman who has a sweet little belly. My philosophy as a life coach is that our relationship with our bodies is one of the most valuable things that we have. We live inside our bodies; they are our homes. When we get in touch with our body’s sensations, we can be more in touch with what we want and make better decisions for our lives. What happens when we shame or criticize our own bodies? We become self-conscious. We lose that innate connection. We lose our power. And we might not even want to leave our own homes to allow ourselves to be seen.

The next day I called my Chinese-American friend and told her the story. She shrieked, “How is that any of his business? He body-shamed you. I won’t get a foot massage in Singapore.”

My friend’s comment was funny, and that’s why I am including it.

Is the moral of the story, “Don’t get a foot massage in Singapore?” Maybe. Ha. I’m not sure that the language “body-shaming” applies in Singapore since it’s a U.S. construct.

If you are in Singapore en route to Bali, I would say, Wait, and get your feet  massaged in Bali. Since I arrived three weeks ago, I have gotten a handful. Foot massages in Bali cost a fifth of the Singaporean price, and they are far, far, far more blissful.  No massage therapist in Bali ever made a comment about my body, negative or positive.  All they care about is helping me relax. And that’s the point of a good foot massage, is it not?

Developing a more self-compassionate relationship with yourself, and a more affirming relationship with your body and your sensuality are two things we focus on in Turned-On Living my yearlong group coaching program for a small group of intrepid women who are drawn to my work.

A new cohort starts in June. A self-marriage (or soul commitment) ceremony is part of the experience. Does that scare you? Perfect. Transformative things by their very nature push us outside of our comfort zones.

Curious about Turned-On Living? The next group will begin together in September–back to school energy, out of the slog and into turned-on living. Read more on this page, and fill out the form telling me about you. I talk to each person to create a magical group of sensitive, caring women.

I am going to do a live community Zoom from Bali this April to tell you about what I’m learning in this culture from Balinese people, and how those lessons intersect with the yearlong adventure we go on together in Turned-On Living. Make sure you are signed up on the newsletter to get the invite!

And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send a message.

Overheard in Bali at the Yoga Barn: “I would rather go home and use my yoni egg”

Overheard in Bali at the Yoga Barn: “I would rather go home and use my yoni egg”

 

in Bali

I was sitting at the cafe in the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, almost a small college campus of yoga and spirituality when I overheard three women talking.

“Then she said, I would rather go home and use my yoni egg at the end of the acro-yoga class. She said we need to normalize it. Just talk about it.”

I smiled to myself and knew I would have to join this conversation.

Yoni eggs, if you are not aware, are egg-shaped stones that women insert in their vaginal canals to help increase blood flow, tone, and sensation in the pelvic floor muscles for their well-being. There’s a debate about whether yoni eggs are safe to use, and I actually do have an opinion, but I’m not going to wade into that controversy now. Because that’s not the point of this blog post, and really, their conversation was more about the boldness of using the term “yoni egg” in casual conversation more than it was about the practice itself. That’s what I’m most interested in writing about too: the language.

“I teach about that,” I interjected from across the table. We were sitting on loungey, couch-like things. Yoga Barn is a place where it’s easy to strike up conversations with strangers. It’s probably one of the places in the world where you are most likely to overhear people talking about “yoni eggs.”

“What do you teach?” one of the women asked.

“I teach pussywalking,” I said, and let that bomb drop. Using the word “pussy” in casual conversation is probably even more radical than talking about yoni eggs, but now that I have been teaching pussywalking for ten years I have gotten accustomed to the joy of letting the shock of the word set in on people’s faces.

“What’s pussywalking?” two of them asked at once.

I explained that I teach women, and now even men sometimes actually, to connect with their bodies through breath and other awareness practices to source their personal power, energy, and confidence from the pelvic region of their bodies. I talked about the tremendous sensitivity of the internal clitoris that exists inside our bodies, beyond the little external dot that we are taught to think of as the clit. I explained that the pussy can be a hidden source of power. And of course, even using the word “pussy” can be transformative.

In the last round of Turned-On Living, my yearlong group coaching program (adventure), getting over the taboo of saying the word itself was a huge conversation among the women. One of the women in the group even practiced by writing the word “pussy” more than fifty times on a small piece of paper and posted it to our Whatsapp group. The image was so funny and cute.

When I was growing up, the only time I heard the p-word was when young men in Camaros shouted the word out to us young women on the streets of Providence. The p-word was some kind of bizarre insult. Of course, it’s meant to convey weakness, when the truth is the opposite: our pussies are quite strong.

Actually, I like the p-word. It’s cute and cuddly and funny, unlike the c-word. I only got to this level of comfort of reclaiming “pussy” after years of immersion in female sexuality workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area where others used it and normalized it for me. Getting used to saying it out loud was a process that took time, just like it was for the women in Turned-On Living.

There are a lot of hidden benefits of getting comfortable with using taboo language and talking about our sexuality and sexual energy. When you get into bed with someone, you can be more comfortable with talking about your body. You an also more easily talk about sex (and bodies) with other women.

In Turned-On Living, we talk about “pussy energy” and practice pussywalking for an entire year while I bring together all I know about empowering yourself as a woman in this world. Along the ride, we get really good at talking about our “pussies.”

I interviewed each woman at the end of the year to find out what was most transformative for each of them. One of them told me that using the word many times over the year helped her find her voice in general, in relationships with men, with setting boundaries, with talking about what she wants and likes and what she doesn’t.

Here’s some of what she shared with me: “As a Gen X person, I grew up and became sexually mature at a time when consent was not a part of the landscape. Our bodies were dirty and dangerous. That was the underlying message of society’s narrative. The way to stay safe was to cover up our bodies and shut them down, and then turn them back on, on-demand, to please and tend to the needs of men in socially sanctioned sexual relationships. That led to disconnection from the tender, vulnerable parts of my body.  

Pussywalking has stimulated my dormant body awareness, much like a body scan does, and gives me agency over my body and female genitals. Embodiment is so big and so new for me (the journey began before Turned-On Living) that I don’t know how or what to articulate about it.

But I can say this: normalizing that I do have a pussy, and there’s energy there, is big for me. I mean, I’ve had a great sex life. Been there, done that. It’s been wonderful. But I think underneath that early social conditioning, that it’s dirty, and unsafe, and you need to lock it up and hide it away. Because that’s what we heard: ‘You’re gonna have your period. You’re going to get pregnant. You’re going to get an STD.’ There’s never anything positive said about the pussy. So I think this was a space where so much positive was said about the pussy, like, “Take a moment get in touch with your pussy.” Oh my gosh, I’m thinking about my pussy right now and saying that out loud to other women. Wow. So yeah, it’s almost indelible, I almost can’t articulate the power of it.”

Yes, reclaiming this language is big–which is why those women were talking about using the word “yoni egg” out loud and why I am talking to you about reclaiming the p-word.

 

 

I’m in Bali for the next two months focused on a creative project. In between this deep dive into my writing, talking with my 1:1 clients, and doing Kundalini yoga, I am forming the new special group of women who will be part of the next Turned-On Living cohort. We start in June and go for a year. We meet once for a soul-commitment ceremony retreat. The max group size is ten, so the experience is intimate. You learn what I have learned about female empowerment in order to create the life you want, by connecting with your body. The intimacy (and my unique teachings) make the group special.

I will do a Zoom session sometime soon from my place in Bali to talk you through the curriculum so you can find out about what you’ll learn in the community experience of Turned-On Living. Be sure you are on my newsletter list if you want to be invited.

If you are feeling called to Turned-On Living, you can write me and request a copy of the curriculum. I talk with each person to form the right chemistry in the group: like-minded women with a shared goal of living a turned-on life.

Curious? Tell me more about you and what draws you to Turned-On Living when you fill out this simple form.

 

Throwing up in Doha–and the Courage to Travel Alone

one of the enchanting pedestrian streets in Istanbul, on the European side in Cihangir. Just loved those umbrellas!

I left some audios for a close friend last night, and she wrote me back, “I love living vicariously through your travel adventures,” and “‘Throwing Up in Doha’ is a great title for a memoir.” This isn’t a full-blown memoir. It’s a humble blog post. But I will tell you the story of throwing up in Doha, anyway. (Doha is the capital of Qatar, in case you didn’t know–I don’t judge you. I didn’t know either. And it’s only in the last year that I learned to pronounce “Qatar.”)

I left that message with a friend to let her know that I have been going through a lot since leaving for this trip on February 14. My first stop was Istanbul for a week, then four days in Singapore, and soon I will be heading on to Bali for two months where I will continue to work with my clients remotely and focus on a creative project. My hope is that the availability of cheap healing massages and the energetic magic of Kundalini yoga will help me make headway on a writing project. I am very happy that I am finally living this dream, which took a ton of work to make possible.

But man, woman, nonbinary person, it’s been a rough two weeks. To recap, my father has been in and out of the hospital twice in the moment when I was about to leave the US and then a week later when I was due to fly from Turkey. It’s hard for me as an eldest child to step back and let my younger siblings, who are wonderful, and totally on it, take responsibility when I am away. There’s guilt to feel, and to release. Luckily, blessedly, after a ton of uncertainty, my father is doing much better, so we are all tremendously grateful.

There have been other things, like getting accidentally punched by a woman in a Turkish hamam, and living through a corneal abrasion for two days. Yes, the hamam experience was fantastic, and the inside of your eye can hurt badly when someone hits it. During these travels, there has been a relationship issue where I realize that I have been deluding myself in fantasy, longing for something that was never an option. and that has been humbling to face. My goddess it’s hard when I realize that I make the same mistakes over and over again. That comes up for a lot of us as we get older. There’s been a lot of looking in the mirror, and getting punched in the face. What can I say? It’s brave to look in the mirror. It’s the only way to evolve.

a snuggly street cat cozies up to the door of the place where I stayed with a friend in Kadikoy

But back to Turkey. Istanbul is spectacular, bursting with history, culture, street cats (watch the lovely documentary Kedi to learn about how Turkish people care for stray felines communally), food, warm people, and very flirtatious men. The cab driver from the airport told me I looked twenty-seven. That’s pushing it! Istanbul is a completely unique city that brings together the secular and the nonsecular, but also overwhelming. Fifteen million people live in Turkey’s capital, more than New York. Istanbul is the biggest city in Europe and straddles the Bosphorous, a natural waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. It covers more land mass than New York City.

On one side is Europe, and on the other lies Asia. I stayed on the Asian side in Kadikoy, which is said to be calm compared to the European side, but this bohemian alcove of a million coffeeshops still thrums with energy and bars, restaurants, and bazaars (markets). I have never been in a place with more cafes! Almost every day I went over to the European side, which could be a journey that took three or four forms of public transport or a cab ride that could take an hour and a half because of hellish traffic. I stayed out late four nights during that week, mostly at milongas dancing tango. All of this added up to exhaustion by the time I was packing my bags.

By the time I left for Singapore, I was depleted, beyond needing a vacation from this vacation. The flight from Istanbul to Doha was the most cramped I have ever been on. I was seated between an unsmiling woman and an unsmiling man. There was a very strange moment when, after I asked the flight attendant for a drink, and she passed me a tiny can of Diet Coke, the woman turned to me and asked if it was possible for me to not drink a Coke near her. I said, “I don’t understand,” because I was frankly flummoxed. She darted up and out to the first class section, and stayed there until we landed.

To say I was rattled would be an understatement. I hadn’t slept more than three or four hours a night in several nights, and all the stress was catching up with me. I had the irrational thoughts that I had traumatized this woman, and she cursed me. By the time we landed in Qatar, where I would be catching the next flight to Singapore, the pressure in my head started to squeeze my brain. I’ve had about 10 or 15 migraines in my life of varying intensity. Sometimes I throw up. Something must connect the gut and brain in the migraine state. So that was the situation, probably borne out of lack of sleep and stress. I was shielding my eyes to block the light on the way through the massive Doha airport (the number one thing to do in this state is to seek darkness) and then I found the most luxuriously, blessedly pristine bathroom by the gate. I threw up in the bathroom a few times, telling myself, “This is miserable but I will get through this.” That was my mantra.

When I saw myself in the mirror I thought, I do not look well. Why remember the bad moments from traveling? Because they are all part of the mix. People say they want to live vicariously through my adventures. Well, traveling can be quite challenging at times, especially in a city like Istanbul that is so vast with so many hidden places and confusing directions. But I love it. I still love to travel, and often I travel alone. Traveling is worth throwing up in Doha: I guess that is what I am trying to say.

While I was in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul, I made this little video about the courage to travel alone, and the angels that help us when we run into problems. I was inspired to make this video by a conversation that I had with a Turkish woman whom I met in a remarkably friendly cafe called Tribu (Italian for “tribe.”) (Watch this little spontaneous video I made with the owner to learn about the cafe–and maybe someday you will visit).

This woman who had worked for the Smithsonian in DC after doing a masters in art history in the US was telling me about a solo trip that she had taken to a Greek island, and a moment when her phone didn’t work and she couldn’t find the place where she was staying. Someone came along to help her find her hotel. That sounded familiar. That is my experience too. Countless times when I have been traveling alone in South America, Europe, and Asia people have helped me when I was lost, sick, or injured.

Angels do come to help. Many of my coaching clients want to travel alone but they get worried with reasonable concerns. I made this video below to encourage other women to travel alone. Because even though shitty things like “Throwing up in Doha” happen, I would still say that traveling alone is worth it. More than worth it. It makes our world bigger. It makes us feel alive, More things happen when we are alone. And we are never totally alone. Angels will come forward. It’s important to acknowledge that and be grateful for them. 

Here’s the video I made for you walking through the streets of Kadikoy in Istanbul about solo travel. I hope you enjoy.

Are you planning any travels, solo or not? Let me know in the comments.

Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones, or, Learning to develop your “oh honey” self-compassionate voice

Do you worry that there might be something wrong with you because you are still single?

Then, watch the above class, Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones! Let me know how it goes for you when you do the journaling exercise we do together to develop your self-compassionate voice, and what you learn from the others who attended live, and who shared so bravely and freely.

Here’s a full disclosure. I asked ChatGPT to list the top ten self-critical thoughts of single people. I wrote, “What are the actual self-critical thoughts that single people say to themselves? In quotation marks, inside someone’s head.” The AI machine spit out results, and I edited them to make them more real based on what I have heard from the people I have coached and talked with over the last 20 years, since publishing my first book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.

Note: I have mixed feelings about ChatGPT, and negative feelings about AI, so I am being transparent with you in service of keeping the human vibe going in my newsletter and blog. The robots are coming!

Here’s the edited list:

  • “I’m still single. What’s wrong with me?”
  • “Everyone else seems to be in a relationship. So, again, what’s wrong with me? Am I unlovable?”
  • “Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I should settle for someone to avoid being alone.”
  • “I must be undesirable if I can’t seem to find a partner.”
  • “If I were more attractive/confident/successful/not messy/some non-specific thing that no one could ever really say, maybe I’d have better luck finding a partner.”
  • “I always mess things up in relationships. Maybe I’m just not cut out for love in this lifetime.”
  • “I’m falling behind in life because I’m not in a relationship like everyone else.”
  • “What if I end up alone forever? Will I regret my choices?”
  • “Maybe I need to change myself to fit what others want in a partner.”
  • “Will I ever find someone who truly wants to commit to me? Why would they want to commit to me? I have so many problems.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

The key to turning the self-critical voice around is first learning to recognize the thoughts as critical, rather than the “truth.” The second step is learning that another voice can take the mic.

Developing an “oh honey” self-compassionate voice can literally change your life. It has mine.

If you struggle with any of the above thoughts in your head, I implore you to watch the video above, an hourlong community free online class I taught to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of my first book Quirkyalone! This was an extraordinary gathering with wonderful people, and the information shared can make an impact on anyone’s life. Let me know what you discover in the comments.

P.S. We spend a whole month on self-compassion in Turned-On Living, my yearlong group coaching adventure that goes for real transformation in a curated group of women. I’ve noticed that developing the “oh-honey” self-compassionate voice is the game-changing first step, and the foundation, for any meaningful change. If we don’t work on self-compassion first, we lose all our energy beating up on ourselves as soon as we start to go outside our comfort zones.

If you want to build the life-changing skill of being kind to yourself, you have to practice. It’s not so different from going to the gym, or learning tango or any other dance. You have to practice to see results. The best way to learn anything new is to do it in community with others who share the journey. That’s why I created Turned-On Living as a curated small group program.

We get started in June. The group is forming now. Check out the page and see if it’s calling you.

Celebrating 20 years of the Quirkyalone Movement on Zoom

This month we are celebrating twenty years of the quirkyalone movement since the publication of my book Quirkyalone: A.Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. 

The publication date of Quirkyalone was January 6, 2004. On the morning of Saturday, January 6, 2024, I decided to be spontaneous. I sent out a message to my newsletter list inviting people to join in for a Zoom session to honor the day of publication that very afternoon.

Lots of people responded! (If you are not on the newsletter list yet, what are you waiting for? This is how you get invited to such special impromptu gatherings!)

In the Zoom session (watch above!), I was blown away by the people who showed up and the stories they shared about how the book hit them in their lives way back when, and how they have carried Quirkyalone with them as an important foundational concept. 

We were joined by Walt Jacobs who has been part of the quirkyalone movement since nearly 2000 and strongly identifies as a married quirkyalone, and people like Rosemary who had just heard about Quirkyalone in the last few weeks. We were joined from people all over the world in fact, from Russia to Australia to Canada to people all over the US.

The beat goes on! While there are a lot more podcasts, books, and movies out there portraying the lives and choices of people who don’t settle in love,  and consequently spend quite a bit of time being single, the message of Quirkyalone will never stop being relevant because it makes room for all of a complex experience: enjoying being single, wanting love and intimacy at the same time.

I am always moved by the kind-hearted nature of the people who join Quirkyalone events too. In twenty years, that’s one thing that has not changed.

During the Zoom session, I read the original 700-word essay, a highly crafted piece of writing that I spent over a year laboring over obsessively, as it was published in my own magazine To-Do List back in 2000, and then Utne Reader. So settle in for some story time.

Listen in and let us know when you first encountered Quirkyalone!

If you are a loyal Quirkyalone reader–and there are a lot of you out there!– one of the best things you can do is to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That will help me get my next and third book Wet out to you. Your support is appreciated!

Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones: A Free Live Online Class to Celebrate the Book’s 20th Anniversary!

How do you learn how to love yourself no matter what, especially when things are not going well?

What: Join me, Sasha Cagen, life coach, author, and founder of the Quirkyalone movement, for a free class on learning how to be kind and gentle with yourself with the skill of embodied self-compassion.

You will learn about three practices of self-compassion that you can use in your everyday life to calm and center yourself with love. We will try out at least two or three of them together.

I am offering this special free class to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, because I want to connect with the many readers and clients who have been part of this journey for the last twenty years.

When I wrote Quirkyalone, I was only 30 and I wasn’t a life coach yet. I knew a lot, but I hadn’t spent 13 years yet helping others to evolve, heal, and get clear about what they really want in life and then live it. Now I know quite a LOT, and I would love to share some of the most life-changing things I have learned with you.

When: Sunday, January 21, 12 noon ET/9 am PT. Please change for your time zone! This class will go one hour, possibly 75 minutes if we need the time. Arrive on time!

Where: On Zoom. Sign up here to get the link! Enter your email and you will get the info.

Cost: This special class is free, and it’s done with love and joy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Quirkyalone, and to connect with all the wonderful clients and readers who have been part of my world over the last 20 years.

What to bring: A journal, your body and your willingness. We may dance!

++

Despite years of “working on yourself,” do you still find yourself wondering, “Is there something wrong with me?” because you have been single for a long time, months, years, or decades?

Do you find it hard to be kind and gentle with yourself when you are out there navigating dating apps, dating, or thinking about dating?

When you get involved with someone, and things don’t work out, do you blame yourself? Or when you are navigating conflict in a current relationship or get triggered, do you gang up on yourself?

Would you like to learn how to come back to yourself as your own best friend and greatest supporter, especially in the places in life that make our quirkyalone hearts most vulnerable?

Now, that’s a tall order in this society that is designed to make us doubt ourselves, but let’s see what we can do!

I am hosting this special, unique “Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones MasterClass” as part of my 20th Anniversary to celebrate the publication of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, which came out with a big bang in 2004 (see chat with Anderson Cooper) and has been attracting kindred spirits ever since.

Learning to love yourself is the heart of the quirkyalone journey. Developing the self-compassionate voice is the heart of the journey we all go on, as we get older and learn to “mother” or “parent” ourselves. There is nothing more important than learning how to be gentle with yourself, which is why this class is useful and potentially life-changing for anyone.

But it’s definitely true that when you are single for a long time, and your life has not gone according to plan, whether it was your plan, or society’s, and you are doing hard things like putting yourself out there on dating apps looking for love (or sex, or whatever you are looking for!), you ESPECIALLY need to learn the skill of self-compassion. We can learn to have our own backs.

Self-compassion is a learned skill that they don’t teach in school (I wish they would!).
It took me more than a decade as a life coach working full-time, and twenty years as the author of Quirkyalone to learn the deep importance of self-compassion myself when I was going through a brutal breakup.

When I finally learned actual practices of self-compassion that I could use on a daily basis as a balm and a corrective, I felt my own inner world shift. I could FEEL self-compassion as a warmth in my heart, to identify self-critical thoughts as they are happening, and create a more loving, “honey, it’s OK” voice in my head to soothe myself.

I have come to see self-compassion as one of the most important practices that has changed my life, and the lives of my clients. I want to offer this class as the skill we delve into, and I am so looking forward to sharing with you.

How to join us? Go here to enter your email address.

You will get the Zoom info over email.

If you are not already on my newsletter list, be sure to sign up there too so you can hear about events beyond this 20th-Anniversary celebration.

Here is a Facebook event invite you can share to invite friends. This class is open to all.

I can’t wait to see you!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them here as a comment or send a message.

It’s time for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Quirkyalone!

My first book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics was published on January 6, 2004.

We are coming up on the twentieth anniversary of its publication! I was in a state of shock when I realized it a couple of weeks ago.

So much happened in those first few months of publication in 2004. The book made a lot of waves!

I got up to do about six interviews a day for two months straight. (Which resulted in a big insomnia crisis that took two years to recover from, if you want to know the truth.)

That time was a whirlwind of talking with Anderson Cooper on CNN, meeting people who passionately identified with the quirkyalone idea on book tour and then at the launch party in SF at the club, The Rickshaw Stop, that attracted 350 people. The Fire Department came to shut down the party.

Quirkyalone also led to so many future events, friendships and conversations. It led to “quirkyalone” becoming an official slang word on dictionary.com.
I am still in awe and in deep gratitude and perplexity over it all.

I am going to do a kind of appreciation of that moment and all that led up to Quirkyalone, including the publication of the essay in the premiere issue of my magazine To-Do List (where the idea first appeared) in 2000.

This appreciation will take the form of a kind of retrospective on Instagram and in my newsletter. In January, I will do some free online events (TBD) to honor the best of where Quirkyalone has taken me and us over the last 20 years, all I have learned in helping people with identify with the quirkyalone spirit of self-love along the path of finding love, within yourself, with others.

If you are not following along my Instagram or newsletter, sign up! I will put the links in the comments.

Time to reclaim January 6.

Blog Fulllwidth

What did we not talk about? An honest conversation (podcast) with One Single Woman

I am back in the US (more on that in a future newsletter). On this (American) Mother’s Day morning, I want to share with you a podcast that I recorded back in late December. 

When Pippa Brown, the creator of One Single Woman podcast, reached out to me, I said yes because she was friendly and enthusiastic, two qualities I always love in a person. I could tell that she had found a soul mission in this project.

She released this episode on February 14 (Quirkyalone Day!) but that was the day I was leaving for Istanbul. Then I was out of the country until last Saturday.

The whole time I was away, I remembered I had this podcast to share with you. I was waiting for the right moment. It’s now! Mother’s Day! Because we talk quite a bit about the decision to be a mother, or not. This decision weighed heavily on me for years as I was out in the wilds dating and looking for a life partner, and I know the weight of this decision does for many people, even if the yes or no is clear.

Sometimes the good stuff takes a while to get out there just because I want to let these deep conversations soak into me. Then I figure out how to share with you, because honestly, as I have gone deeper into the layers of writing a memoir (the ultimate training ground for honesty), this process has spilled over to the degree of disclosure that happens in these interviews.

Sometimes to the point where I listened to the recording, and thought, damn did I say that? 

This podcast goes into a lot of soul questions that may be valuable for people who are asking questions about:

  • Becoming a mother, or not
  • Keeping our sexual energy alive: How do we not just let ourselves die on the vine if we are single for years, or in a sexless marriage?
  • How do we deal with feelings about aging?

So I took the time to get the whole thing transcribed and then fix up the transcription, because I really like all we covered. I will cherry-pick and highlight aspects of this conversation in future newsletters, because truly, we just got so honest it is worth sharing.

We will both love to hear your reactions.

So give yourself a nice hour to do the dishes and listen, or lie on your couch and listen

If you have never listened to a podcast in your life, give yourself a new experience.

The conversation continues in the comments. Let us know your responses!

.

Here is the transcript from this fabulous conversation…with links to some of the resources mentioned.

Hello, and a massive warm welcome back to One Single Woman. 

Now, today may well be Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Quiirkyalone Day. Quirkyalone is a movement which was founded at the beginning of this century, and it spreads the important message of self-acceptance and living life on your own terms regardless of your relationship status.

My guest today is the awesome Sasha Cagen. Sasha is an American author and the founder of this movement she wrote Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics back in 2004. She’s also written To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soulmate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us and she’s currently working on her new memoir Wet.

Alongside writing Sasha works as a life and executive coach specializing in empowering women who are 40-plus to create turned-on lives, careers and businesses.

We discuss so many topics during this interview, we talk about being quirkyalone and whether a romantic relationship is a want or a need. We discuss Sasha self-marriage, her thoughts on not being a mother, and how she has listened to her bodily intuition to help her make important decisions in life.

We also discussed the empowerment of pussywalking, which Sasha invented and she now teaches to both women and men, and we dive into the topic of sex when you were a single person.

I do just want to mention that Sasha does touch on childhood sexual trauma. We don’t go into any detail but it is mentioned a few times during the course of this interview. 

And there are parts of this conversation which would not be suitable for children to listen to. Right. I really hope that you enjoy this conversation. Let’s go.

Hello, Sasha and a very warm welcome to One Single Woman. Thank you so much for being here with me today.

ABOUT QUIRKYALONE

Now you are the author of the book Quirkyalone, which is a concept which absolutely fascinates me. Could you please give some background about Quirkyalone, or where the concept initially came from?

Quirkyalone has been around for a while now because we’re almost at the end of 2023. I came up with “quirkyalone” back in 1999. So we’re talking about 24-25 years ago, which is like pretty insane to think that’s like half of my life.

So basically, it’s a concept that I came up with when I was in my mid-20s. I had spent most of my life single by then. I was still a very young person. 

I always felt like something was weird with me. You know, even going back to being 13 because I didn’t always have a boyfriend. Quirkyalone was a creation of mine to create a word to describe people who don’t settle in relationship, who want to be in a relationship, but may spend a longer period of time single versus others who more quickly find someone to couple up with. 

So I wrote an essay and published it in my own magazine To-Do List at the time and Utne Reader which was a magazine that published selections from other magazines. Utne reprinted the quirkyalone essay back in 2000. 

Then it was going viral before things went viral. This was very dawn of the Internet. Yeah, it just got this tremendous reaction from human beings all over who were inundating me with mixtapes and letters and letters from prisoners, and it was really quite a phenomenon.

This was way before it was so common for things to go viral. So it was like coming-to-my-post-office-box-viral. That led to interest from an agent which led to me writing a book that came out in 2004. And then when the book was published, Quirkyalone got a lot of media attention as a different spin on being single. And it really kicks off a lot of conversation that continues to this day. About different ways of looking at being single and being in a relationship because Quirkyalone has these other sort of fun identities inherent in the book like quirkyslut, and quirkytogether. And so it’s not really about being single. 

Ultimately, it’s about being true to yourself, and a kind of recognition that for some of us being true to ourselves, may mean a whole bunch of time of being single, but it doesn’t mean that that is always the first choice or uncomplicated. But it really gives people a feeling of validation to know that they’re not the only ones who are having that experience. Because at so many points in our lives, we can wind up feeling like something’s wrong with us if we don’t have a partner.

I took your quiz, Sasha, in the book, and yeah, it totally resonated with me. I came up like that. I’m very quirkyalone. 

Can you just tell me, what about the ratio of men to women reaching out to you?

I have always heard from men and women. I’ve done polls of the community over the years, and it’s been pretty consistent. 85% women, 15% men. I haven’t done one in the last few years, but I did want another one five years ago, and it was still like that. So I take that as a pretty consistent number.

You have, well, more women are always interested in self-development, and trying to understand themselves. Perhaps the percentage of quirkyalone men has grown or you know, maybe they just weren’t finding me. 

Of course, women face more stigma about being single, but men have their own struggles. 

I definitely have men who reach out and feel very identified with being quirkyalone. 

It’s not actually a concept of wanting to be alone full stop. It is that thing of being open to a relationship. In chapter four in your book, you said when “settling is not an option,” so it’s very much geared towards being open to a romantic relationship and even marriage, but it’s the concept of not settling for something that isn’t right for you. 

Yeah, I think that that’s what is inherent to quirkyalone is that kind of allergy. Settling is just not really an option. Of course, as one gets older one thinks a lot about, What does it mean to settle? Because you know, if you’re going to try out different relationships, it’s not like ordering a product on Amazon. You can’t necessarily get the one with the specifications that you want.

But I think that we learn that we can settle on the most important things and I would say that’s going to be different for each person. I mean, for me, what’s most important is not settling on how I’m treated. 

For other people like it could be about living situations. They want to have a committed deep relationship with someone but they want to keep living on their own. Alone can be quite troublesome for people. One really lovely man that I coached to was, I don’t know, maybe upper 50s. He really believed that all women would need to get married or live with him if he was going to have a relationship with them. 

Our work was sort of about opening up to the possibility that there could be another quirkyalone woman out there who had the same desires for a strong relationship without cohabitation, necessarily. Many things are possible when you are quirkytogether. 

ABOUT BEING BORN OR MADE AS A QUIRKYALONE

I’m just gonna go to your chapter in the book called “Born or Made?” This is something that I really resonated with. So I’m just going to read out just read out a paragraph here. 

“I call myself a “womb quirkyalone,” because even though intellectually I know that my quirkyalone status must be a complex combination of innateness and experience, it feels innate.

I cannot imagine being any other way.”  Can you just speak more to that for me?

I love that you’re reading from the book. It’s so wonderful for me because I’m like, Who wrote that?

When I wrote the book, it was clear to me that there were people who felt like they had come out of the womb quirkyalone. This is always the way they were. 

And then there were people who came to this realization through life, you know, through a divorce or relationships that sucked the life out of them, or whatever. 

Circumstances prompted them to have a quirkyalone awakening, realizing that it was possible to have a full existence on their own, they would prefer to not settle and you know, be selective and cultivate enjoyment on their own.

For me, it’s one of those funny things because it feels so inherent to who I am. I guess that the circumstances that led me to feel like I’m a “womb quirkyalone” are that I grew up in a town where there were just there was just no one for me to date. You know, I mean, I remember feeling that way. In junior high school. In high school I was really excited to go to debate team meets at another high school, or math team meets at another high school, or the fantasy that my parents would be able to send me to boarding school and I would meet my boyfriend there. 

I had friends. I had a group of female friends who were very tight, but there was nobody for me to date. And so I think it was true then.

I don’t think I was wrong. I think it was accurate as a teenager, because now when I’m living where I grew up, I mean, it’s rare to find someone that I connect with. And, of course, when I went to college, it was true that there were more people that I could see as potentially compatible. And, you know, then I went on and lived in cities that had a lot more dating potential.

But I think that the part of that wombness was also my strong friendships. I always had best friends. I structured my life with groups of friends. 

And I think that there is a difference for a lot of people when they look back at their early lives. Were their early lives shaped by friendships, or by having a boyfriend or girlfriend, or whatever?

For me, I really learned that I could get along with friends and that actually, having a partner is something I deeply want and value. I love being in a relationship. I love sex. I love the challenges that come up in relationship. I’m a relationship geek. I like reading relationship books and taking relationship seminars and I love all of that. I love having those problems to solve. 

But the bigger crisis for me is not having any friends. That’s when actually life is at a crisis point. When I moved to  Buenos Aires  when I was 38, I was living in a city with no friends. That was actually far more uncomfortable for me than not having a boyfriend.

As a quirkyalone, I know very well, how to get along with two or three friends. To do things locally with and not have a boyfriend. I mean, that’s kind of the status quo. It’s okay. It’s not a crisis. It’s not an emergency in the way that not having friends is an emergency. 

ABOUT TURNING FIFTY – AND THE QUESTION, AM I STILL A QUIRKYALONE?

And going back, Sasha, so obviously, this was, this was 25 years ago, as you said, do you still feel it sort of inside? Do you still feel like the same person with regards to the whole quirkyalone thing has or has it has it evolved for you personally, in any way?

Yeah, I actually have an essay that I started to write during the pandemic.  I just went back to it to think like, can I shape something from this? The title of the essay is, “Am I still a quirkyalone?” (NOTE: this essay is still coming. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get it when it’s ready.)

This is a live question for me. Am I still a quirkyalone? And it’s something that I have answered differently even in the last two years.

I keep changing my answer. I think in some way I will always be a quirkyalone because for me being quirkyalone really has nothing to do with being single. I could be married and living together with someone and being a stepmother. I’m just sort of creating a scenario, because I’m not going to be a mother at this point. That train left.

I could have all of those choices set up that would look on the outside traditional and still be “quirkyalone,” because being quirkyalone is this sort of inner flame inside that recognizes that I can have a satisfying existence in a number of different ways. 

Being with the right person who feels internally like a match to me is non-negotiable. That’s just not going to change, that not-settling thing. But I think what I have struggled with as a question many times over the last 10 years, let’s say, is the question of is a romantic relationship for me as a want or a need.

As I have gone through my personal process with that, I have had someone suggest to me well, “Maybe this is a need for you. And you should treat it more seriously as a need.” And not just as sort of icing on top which is the way that I had talked about it like, yeah, I can be perfectly happy and if I have a great relationship, that’s the icing on top of the cake. Is it actually a need for my life, to be in a good relationship? 

In a way, I liked declaring it as a need because it was like yeah, I’m a human being. This is actually a part of me that really wants to be expressed. I really wouldn’t be satisfied with my life without sexual intimacy, without emotional intimacy. I guess at the end of the day, trying to have what I want. I can’t say that I’ve been successful in finding a really long-term (romantic) relationship in the last 10 years. I’ve been in relationships. Now where I am, I don’t have that.

And then I started to think years later, this need thing. It’s kind of a downer. It’s actually not making me feel good to think that way. 

I myself have been going through a sort of awakening and revival. Yeah, appreciating all of the amazingness that is in my life. Turning 50 was really a big part of this. Because actually being single at 50 was a huge fear of mine. Like it had been in my psyche of like, I don’t know, somehow 50 was worse than 40 for being single. And 40 is when I married myself.

But, of course 50 is harder than 40. I think every every decade as you get older, it’s a little bit more serious because it’s like, I’ve lived longer, and there’s more to contemplate. There’s less time and I want to be really intentional about how I am living my life to suck the most juice out of life. 

I have been going through a really interesting period, the last few months of really appreciating how amazing my life is actually. Somebody was asking me if I was happy when I turned 50. And I was like, “I think I’m happy.” And he thought that that was kind of funny. “I think I’m happy” was almost like a comedy line. And I realized that I was holding a back on saying I was happy because I wasn’t I didn’t have the relationship piece that I wanted.

I had this deep thing inside me that said, You can’t say you’re happy because if you do, then you’re never going to get what you want. If you say you’re happy, this is really weird, but I’m admitting this because I wrote Quirkyalone, but I realized that that was still hanging out there.

And so then I really started talking about that with all of my a lot of my friends who are in relationship and how I compare my life to them to them.

I was really doing myself a disservice. Actually I am happy. There’s something about getting to 50, which is like, Wow, this is a lot of hard work turning 50. But I can see the view better. 

A friend of mine was like yeah, it takes 50 years to figure out how to live. I feel like I’m getting there. 

FIfty sparked a lot in me because I wasn’t even sure if I was going to talk about it publicly. That’s a whole other topic about age discrimination and all of those things, but through this reckoning and reflection process, the things that have become clear to me are I am going to talk about being 50 because I have wisdom to share from growing older and especially as it relates to being single. Because this was my biggest boogeyman, being single at 50. 

Now I’m living with it and I’m like oh my life is actually awesome. I was just in Bali. I’m going back to Bali. I’m going to Turkey soon. I’m dancing tango all over the place. My business is a lot of work but it’s growing. I’m creatively expressed. I love this new home that I managed to purchase. I didn’t know that I would ever purchase a home as an artist-healer person. So I’m like wow, you know, actually, it’s okay to say that I’m happy.

It really seems odd that I’m saying this but like is it’s been a really profound thing. 

It sounds like it has but I’m so pleased to hear that you that that’s how you feel that 50. That’s, that’s wonderful. It’s really inspiring. 

Yeah, it really is. And I don’t say that lightly because I was terrified of it. 

There’s a lot of weight that goes along with age. There’s a lot of discrimination. There’s a lot of negative feelings about what it looks like to be in your 50s. 

A lot of my work with tango and the Tango Adventure I used to host in Buenos Aires. It was a lot about showing women a different culture where women in their 60s and 70s are still wearing sequined dresses and going out to dance until 2 am or 4 am. Yeah, any night of the week or you know, that it’s possible to keep living an engaged, sexy life. 

MOTHERHOOD – AND NOT-MOTHERHOOD

Sasha you mentioned children I want to eat would you be happy to talk about about the fact that you don’t have any children and how that sort of looked for you throughout your life?

So the question about children was a big one for me, because I was one of those people who was open-minded about it. And I always thought that if I met the right partner and we got into a serious relationship, that child would be a product of that love.

I did have a gay friend who talked to me at 27 about having a child together if it didn’t work out, you know, in a regular kind of way.

So that question between 35 and 40 was a really big one. For me of you know, will I meet someone? And what choices am I making in life to support or not support, finding a partner and having a child? So it was tough and you know, I’ve coached a number of women through, I call it a dark passageway of being a woman. I think that those ages between 35 and 40 are really tough in a way that isn’t generally recognized because there are biological limits for women and for men too, which people don’t like to acknowledge.

So for me personally, I never felt it like a kick in the stomach of something that I just absolutely had to pursue. I think a lot about decisions because when you are a single woman your life doesn’t follow a regular template. You have the potential to make a lot of decisions about how your life can be and how you use the time and freedom that you have. 

So let’s say I had a kick in the stomach that told me I had to go back to Buenos Aires and dance tango. That was a choice point that I mean, when I was 38. Do I want to stay in the Bay Area, San Francisco, where I was very unhappy, and continue to date, online dating, and maybe I would meet someone? Or do I want to listen to my bodily intuition, that kick in the stomach that is saying you have chronic fatigue syndrome, and the thing that is going to help you is going back to Argentina and living there for a while?

I really struggled with that decision. Ultimately, I listened to what my pussy had to tell me and that’s a story that I’m telling in Wet.

We’re going to get onto that. [Laughter]

When I coach women, I help them figure out how to listen to their pussies for their decisions.

But yeah, my pussy pulsed. My pussy had a pulsing sensation that said yes, go. So I clicked buy on a ticket that I had been struggling to buy. And lo and behold, I moved to Buenos Aires. 

That was back in 2012. And I wound up being there for eight months that time. I came back and I think that after that I kind of had let go of the child dream.

Of course, I think it is around 42 or 43 that one really has to let go because it (having a child) might seem possible until then. So it was this kind of gradual letting go of that as a possibility. I do have to say there was something really good about that of the freedom on the other side. Okay, fuck it. That didn’t happen.

I feel really lucky that I don’t have a terrible grief about that. I think you know Jody Day who created Gateway Women. She helps women who feel that grief. Tthat’s that’s a huge emotional process to let go of, when you when you had more desire than ambivalence. I would say I had more ambivalence than desire.

Because now, to be quite frank, I’m pretty relieved that I don’t have children. I mean, when I look at the news headlines I’m really glad I don’t have to worry about my kids. I also feel that I am a maternal person who’s very loving and caring. When I was 35 to 40, I really had this fear that if I wasn’t a mother, I wouldn’t be a complete woman. Even though intellectually, I wouldn’t have told you that, that fear was running me.

I don’t have that anymore. I feel totally like a woman. I don’t have to be a mother. And I’m very conscious of all the ways that one can be motherly in the world. And like when I run my coaching programs, and I do things for others, I feel like I’m expressing that part of myself that is nurturing. Of course I have parents to care for and other people to care for. So I really feel like I’ve gotten a lot of freedom, as I’ve gotten older, to get out of those structures that are implanted in us that like, you know, to be a woman you have to be XYZ. I have a much broader idea of what being a woman is about now, or let’s say being a loving adult.. A loving, nurturing adult.

And I feel that yeah, I’m doing a good job with that. I can be an emissary of getting older as a good thing. 

Yeah, that’s such a lovely way to put it. You know, you’re you’re nurturing in other ways. It doesn’t have to be towards the child does it? 

Yeah, I heard things like that many times as I was going through those decisions, but it wasn’t until I fully felt that myself and stepped into a much more objective view of myself with more self-respect and stepped out of those narratives that it’s actually been really great. I’ve talked to other women about this, too. There is something good about getting beyond that biological clock window and feeling the freedom of not having that pressure anymore. 

IS THERE A STIGMA AROUND NOT HAVING CHILDREN?

And with regards to pressure did you feel have you felt throughout your life stigma surrounding the fact that you didn’t have children?

You know, I feel that stigma when I’m in settings where everyone else has children. I don’t know if it’s stigma, it’s just feeling weird.

For example, I facilitate groups of executive women for a company called Chief. Sometimes I’ll have a group and they’ll be some single women or some non-mothers, and sometimes they’ll be all mothers. 

Unavoidably one is going to feel a little alien and foreign, because let’s say we do we do an exercise in the first meeting where people write a timeline of their lives, the important events in their lives. So for them, the wedding, the birth of the child, other things that happen like they’re shaping events and their lives. When you don’t have that, and you’re presenting a timeline, it’s different. It does take strength just to say like, yes, my life is different than the norm. There are other meaningful moments. It’s a little bit vulnerable to step out and say, like, oh, yeah, this time when I ran away to Brazil, that was really meaningful for me, because, you know, maybe they’re gonna think that’s very superficial or not as important as having a child or something like that. So I don’t know if that’s stigma, but insecurity.

I’ve been really lucky in my life to surround myself with open-minded people. Being an expat is excellent for a person who doesn’t fit the norms because expats by their nature don’t. When I lived in Buenos Aires for six years, one of the best things about it is that my friends were people who also left their countries of origin. They were entrepreneurial, they were creative. They’re doing something different with their lives. That really helps. 

If you are around everyone else doing the expected stuff, I think it’s a challenge. But also the people who do the expected stuff, they have their own questions. It’s so interesting being a coach because I hear from people who are clients, who did all of the expected things, and then they’re wondering, did I really even want any of this? Like, you know, maybe I was just following along with what society wanted from me. 

I would say that being a life coach and having so much access to what’s really going on for people has been very helpful for me in my own personal journey because it helps me see that I have been quite intentional. And it’s not like I just did some like paint by numbers. A strength of my life is that it has been chosen.

WHAT IS SELF-MARRIAGE, AND WHAT IS SOUL COMMITMENT?

Thank you for sharing that. Thank you. Now, you did just briefly touch on this idea that you married yourself. Could you just tell us why that was and what that looks like for you?

I married myself when I was 40. I did it in Buenos Aires because I felt more comfortable there, but I had tango friends who joined in the ceremony.

I learned about self-marriage when I wrote Quirkyalone. In that book, there are some interviews with women who married themselves. Self-marriage always seems to be this concrete, artistic manifestation of the ideals of Quirkyalone. You’re committing to love yourself and honor yourself as you would hope a partner would.

It didn’t really make sense to me personally until I was around 40. I had been doing a lot of healing work. There was sort of deep stuff that I had to reckon with from my past that actually was childhood trauma, sexual trauma that happened that I had never addressed and that’s really the story that’s underneath Wet. The stuff that had not been looked at and dealing with it.

So I had been going through that process, which was very difficult. I guess I was thinking a lot about my shadow because I was thinking about shame and aspects of myself that were difficult for me that I didn’t want to talk about or that I didn’t want to have known by a partner or family. Ways that I kept myself hidden. 

I’d been doing all this therapeutic work. Suddenly the self-marriage idea felt like a way to take all this work I had been doing in therapy and do something with it in a kind of celebratory way, to commit to loving all parts of me. Jung has been important in my work. I talked about Jung in the first quirkyalone essay. My work has a lot to do with overcoming shame, healing shame. And for me, this self-marriage was a ritual of healing shame, and stepping into acceptance of all of me.

I did it with two tango friends, one from Colombia and one from Estonia. The one from Colombia had already married herself very casually like a year before. She just went out and bought a ring. And that was that. 

And then the friend from Estonia was younger and it didn’t make sense to her at the time. But she actually married herself after having two children and divorcing. She went back and married herself in Estonia years later and became an advocate in Estonia on TV for self-marriage. 

So it was a very quirky group of women and the three of us we did it in the Japanese Gardens in Buenos Aires. It was very peaceful. I wanted something very peaceful. You see a lot of media pictures of self-marriages where they’re big. The woman is wearing a white dress and you know, there’s 100 people there. This was not my style. I don’t think I want that if I get married to a man. I like small things. I’m a highly sensitive person.

It was a very small ceremony. We had sushi afterwards. We spent the day together. 

I think what’s really beautiful about self-marriage is that when you’re in the presence of someone who’s doing a self-marriage ceremony it’s very uplifting to everyone because you’re on this channel of self-commitment.

I’ve been calling it soul-commitment. I have this new experience with self-marriage this last few months because I have this group coaching program Turned-On Living. We’re together for a whole year. 

Every month has a theme. November was the soul commitment month. We chose to call it soul commitment because most of the women in the group were not that comfortable with the term “self-marriage” or it didn’t resonate for them. In the media, this idea of soul commitment was circulating and that resonated for them more. Basically it was the same thing. 

We constructed ceremony and rituals. They had music that they chose to pussywalk down the aisle. It was part of this three-day retreat that we did, as the final event culminating the weekend and the year. And my God, it was really beautiful to be at a group soul-commitment ceremony. 

Wow, that takes it to a whole other level because when you have a group of people committing, a group of women, but I think it could equally men could do this.

Committing to themselves and reading their vows out loud to each other and then dancing to songs they had chosen to step into those vows. It was one of the top ten experiences of my life really. It wasn’t my soul commitment. It was theirs. And I guess that’s what I mean about being a mother. I’m like the mother of this soul commitment ceremony for five women.That’s awesome.

PUSSYWALKING AND SENSUALITY COACHING FOR WOMEN

Now Sasha, you’ve just mentioned pussywalking. So if we can go on to so you’re you are a sensuality coach, aren’t you for women? Who are both single and partnered or married? Can you just tell me a little bit more about that sort of the the type of women that you work with what sort of work you’re doing with them?

I do love calling myself a sensuality coach in addition to a life coach or executive coach, because I have such an interest in the body. I feel that connecting with our bodies is such an important part of knowing who we are and feeling good. Feeling good is really a big part of my philosophy.

Life is not easy. There will be challenges but it’s really important to fuel ourselves with pleasure, and believe that we’re worthy of pleasure. And there can be sensuality coaching for women who are totally single. 

I think this is something that’s quite unique about me is that I have been associated with single women for so much of my career, and I’m very interested in sex and sensuality, how to amp up that part of our lives, whether we’re dating or whether we’re alone.

I like to talk about sexual energy and body connection to really empower us to know that we can be in connection with our sexual energy no matter what is going on in our lives, and that can be used for the good of our own expression being just how we feel everyday life walking down the street. 

PUSSYWALKING AND THE CENTERING OF WOMEN (WHILE INCLUDING MEN)

So pussywalking is a methodology that I created. That is, you know, it’s for any kind of person and in fact, I just taught one pussywalking workshop that included a man. So let’s say, single women, married women, partnered women. dating women, married men, single men, everybody could learn to pussywalk.

The focus is on female anatomy. Like all of my work, I center women, because we are decentered in general and so many aspects of life. 

So pussywalking came from my study of tango and my travels in South America and my immersion in the study of female sexuality and sensuality for empowerment. So it brings forward this knowledge that the clitoris is not just this little button on the outside like we were taught.

isn’t it the size of a medium, I know that you guys call them, eggplants? We call them aubergines over here.

Right, so inside our bodies, that clitoris is this whole structure that encircles the vaginal canal. Which could be seen as a vegetable. [Laughter.] And people use that analogy. 

All of it is nerve endings that can be activated. So pussywalking is a process of awakening the energy that is inside our bodies through those nerve endings. So it’s becoming more commonly known that women have in the clitoral glans, which is that little button, more nerve endings for pleasure than any other organ male or female, and that doesn’t include all the nerve endings that are inside. So this is just a tremendously sensitive organ. 

Basically pussywalking is an invitation to wake up that pussyenergy, which I teach through breathing and visualization of what actually is inside your body. And then using that awareness and energy as a focal point when a woman walks. 

I’ve been teaching pussywalking now for 10 years, which is pretty amazing. And I’ve been doing it on the down low a lot of that time because I was like, Oh my God. How was I going to talk about pussywlking? 

I had discovered this secret superpower of being a woman because I did a lot of sexual exploration. When I lived in San Francisco I was a part of a lot of workshops doing very outside-the-box stuff that activated put the energy or even taught me to say the word “pussy” because I definitely didn’t grow up saying word “pussy” at all. I had a lot of resistance to that.

I found through the cultivation out of that energy that I got this real boost that put me in the present moment, gave me a lot of radiant energy and gave me a lot of confidence. I used it for interviews that I went on. And there was one particular day when I was just shining with my pussy energy at this insurance company where they wanted me for corporate coaching. I was totally inexperienced at the time, but I nailed it. Like really well. It worked really, really well.

On the way out. I was in the elevator, and this guy said to me, “You look like you’re enjoying your life. And whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” 

And because now that I’ve been teaching pussywalking to women, over the years, I have evidence of other women hearing similar.

The same thing to them, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”

We actually have this “Dancing in the Woods” part of the Turned-On Living retreat last month. 

A guy walked by with his dog, and when he saw us dancing in the woods, he said, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”  So there’s something about connecting with this pussy energy which puts people in a good place.

The other thing I might add is that as along with the empowerment side of things, it can also help with your posture, can’t it? So how did you how did you actually discover that? Was that something that you you were walking along and it just came to you that that was what you were doing? I mean, because pussywalking is like a form of meditation. Almost, isn’t it? Because it because you’re you’re concentrating your energy within a part of your body as you walk. 

Well, the truth is that I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Oakland. I was practicing orgasmic meditation. And so I was doing a sexual spiritual practice, which is all about stroking very lightly the clitoris for 15 minutes and in a very structured container, a partner practice, as someone else was doing it. So this is like a whole other story and it is a complicated story because I learned it at a place that now I think would very clearly be called a sex cult. 

So pussywalking is a sort of extraction of the gems and wisdom that I got from going into these very edgy places that I wouldn’t send people to. That’s the tough thing about a lot of this sexual empowerment stuff. Many of the places… I’m a student of Tantra, I’m a student of Taoist sexuality, and I am very deep in all of this stuff. 

As a coach, I’m kind of a conduit of that information, delivering it in a safe, ethical way. A problem in this world is that a lot of those places are run by people who manipulate and take advantage of power because sexual energy is so powerful and people are very ripe for exploitation. It just happens that way. And it’s almost universal, how many stories there are of abuse that happen within places that teach sexuality. Very unfortunate.

So, yeah, this is a tricky part of the story, and I’m still figuring out how to tell it because the truth is that my pussy was very awakened because of the wonderful work that I got to do practicing orgasmic meditation at a place that had significant dark side. 

So the story… it was in my own life when I was going to this job interview and you know, I was like, wow, my pussy is on autopilot. Like I had gotten so much good attention down there. The labia were like, friends with each other. I was like, I’m walking and I feel like I’m having slow spiritual sex. That was the feeling really being in tune with my pussy. 

I’m a very sensitive type and energetic and like, I like sex when you’re hardly even moving. Let’s say like, your partner’s inside. You barely even moving and that can create this kind of delicious ultra-aliveness, and that was the feeling I had that was sort of the birth of pussywalking. So it’s not like oh my God, I’m having an orgasm. It’s not like that. You know, it’s sort of deliciousness that feels very alive and awake and pleasurable.

MEN AND PUSSYWALKING, OR MALE PUSSYWALKING AND MALE PUSSYENERGY

Sasha, you mentioned that men can do this as well.

Yeah, I know. It’s very mind-boggling to think about.

I love it. 

So, when I was in Bali in September and October, I taught a pussywalking workshop, and I hired a videographer. I’m editing those videos now. And as part of that small group of people in the workshop we had a man and so it’s going to be really fascinating when the video is ready to share because we have this male pioneer pussywalking. 

I’ve had very many men be interested in pussywalking, so I always thought that it would be cockwalking, but after a lot of thinking and study of this, I think what it is, is that it’s male pussywalking. As we’ve learned from books, a lot of people learn from Come As You Are, that the female genitalia and the way that our (female) sexual organs are expressed are an internal manifestation. Men have their pussy energy on the outside.

There’s a similar feeling of aliveness and subtle energetic awakening that can happen for men. And it’s the same place in their bodies. It’s also in the pelvis and the central organizing wheel of the body. 

And so, you know, for men, I think it’s this fascinating doorway about feeling connected with their sexual energy, but not going toward hard-on. Like this is something totally different, which, you know, many doors are opened in Tantra and Tao is sexuality about cultivating orgasm without ejaculation. Male pussywalking would be yet another cultivation of this aliveness and breathing down there and circulating that energy throughout the body. But without a goal. That’s very important for women. There’s also no goal other than just the experience itself.

It was absolutely unbelievable to have this man in the workshop because he said what you said he said. He’d read many books about posture, and that pussywalking was the simplest and most efficient way to improve his posture. He also felt all of these other benefits from pussywalking of slowing down and he was there with his wife. He felt it was something he could use to get out of work mode, being an engineer, and transition into more presence, being with other people or being with his wife, and also just being like a sensitive, strong male with a sexual energy but not in an aggressive way. 

I think that’s why the male pussywalking is a better thing to talk about than cockwalking. Because pussyenergy is not weak. Definitely not. But it’s also not going to overpower anyone. It’s more about autonomous power. 

Yes, yes. Because what I’ve sort of gleaned from from your work and from everything that you do, and that’s just going back to that sort of thing of dominance and also women feeling ashamed of their sexuality. I mean, that’s an inherent thing that we have historically felt. 

What I have felt from your work is that you’ve taken that very thing that we have been taught to be ashamed of, and turned it into the thing that gives you empowerment and freedom.

Thank you for seeing that.

ABOUT MY MEMOIR-IN-PROGRESS WET

So on that note, moving on from pussies to Wet. Can you tell us about your memoir, and I know that this is a story of healing through sensuality, isn’t it? 

I have been working on this book for at least 11 years now. And it took me four years to really understand what it was about. 

So on the surface level, this is a memoir about my decision to leave Silicon Valley and follow a bodily impulse to go to Brazil, which then led to a whole big long wander in South America with a ton of sexual and sensual experiences. I felt called to go to South America because I very much wanted to get away from screens and Silicon Valley. 

I wanted to be in my body and there was something about I just wanted to be in a sexy place. In the beginning, it was just like, you know, Dating isn’t working and I just need to feel alive and that was the first call. So basically, the story is about all of the different things that happens when first I was looking for happiness, let’s say through men, and a lot of different sexual experiences that weren’t turning into what I ultimately wanted. With boundaries being crossed and repeating patterns and you know, ultimately feeling stuck like unlovable and and kind of patterns that I had already been dealing with. 

And then the book or my story goes to Colombia where I discovered tango. Tango becomes this kind of training ground of learning how to find alignment and balance and true self-respect through being in my center and using the metaphor of dance as a way of how to have a healthy relationship with myself and with another person. 

So what’s going on in the background of all of this is healing the impacts of childhood sexual abuse and that was the thing that I didn’t want to look at and I was four years into the book where I started I was working with someone on a coaching about story using the hero’s journey structure from Joseph Campbell. That’s when I finally realized it. In the Hero’s Journey, you have to hit certain points like, Here’s where the character dies. Here’s where the character dies again, like there’s the ultimate lowest moment in the story. Every movie somehow follows this formula. 

I realized that like all the low moments were emotionally related to the impact of that early trauma that I never wanted to look at. So tango became a way of healing all those sensual experiences were a way of healing. I have such a big respect in a way for sex and for sensuality, learning through things through our bodies. Because we live in bodies.

A lot of people find healing and yoga. A lot of people have stories about healing from abuse through yoga. My way was through all this sex and tango. So the book is all about that.

And about all the things we’ve been talking about, about being a woman whose life did not conform to the norms, and making peace with that and walking tall instead of shrunken.

So there’s a lot with pussywalking that is about expansion. Not being ashamed, not hiding breasts, all of that stuff. Wet is really the story of that for me, because even though I was the Quirkyalone author, and people saw me as an empowering role model, I had a lot of shame that I was working through.

Shame is in the body. It’s Body Keeps the Score-stuff, you know that we internalize trauma and it makes us smaller and it has to be worked on through the body. You can’t just talk about it. You actually have to get in there and feel it and for some of us, like change how we are inside our bodies.

FINDING ANSWERS THROUGH OUR BODIES

And you have you work with people who say that, don’t you?

Yeah, I mean, I, as a coach, I always have to find a line between what is therapy and what is coaching.

But I come in as the piece of working with your body and connecting with your body. And finding, feeling and answers through what your body is telling you. 

People are different. People learn in different ways. For me and the people who are attracted to me as clients, we’re very kinesthetic people. 

For me, a lesson gets anchored in the body. I feel something differently. I feel it in tango. It’s all about like finding a posture that will allow for the energy to flow from one person to the other. And if one person is stooping, or falling over, or not respecting themselves, the energy gets cut. 

For example, finding that posture of alignment and pride that allows the energy to flow. For me that was an anchoring in my body of like, oh, this is what it’s like to be in a relationship and not lose myself. This is what it’s like to be in a relationship and hold my ground. This isn’t I was like to be in a relationship and not people-please in a very big way and lose myself so. That feeling of it physically, in a different way of holding my body is very effective and the people who are attracted to me want to do that. They also feel that way.

CULTIVATING SEXUAL ENERGY WHEN YOU ARE SINGLE 

Wonderful. So such as something that something else that I did want to ask you is as single women, how do we cultivate our sexuality? If we don’t have a partner? Like what would what would your advice be to single women? 

Okay, so I think that the first advice is just to ask this question of yourself, How do I as a single woman cultivate my sexuality? 

Because already this is opening the door and saying that this is possible. 

Because I think for a lot of people, the longer that goes by when you don’t have sex, it’s not flowing in that way. It’s very easy to think, Ooh, that’s just not for me, or I have to be in a relationship in order to explore my sexuality. This is a very strong idea that most people have: they think exploring your sexuality happens within a relationship.

I would say this is pretty different for me. I have always had a very strong feeling that I’m exploring my sexuality, no matter what. So I think already taking that stand for yourself is pretty big and opens a lot of doors to workshops. You could read books, things you can watch on Netflix, so already having it as important is a big step. Then I think it depends on where you are in your journey in terms of what’s next for you.

We have solo sex so you know already there it’s sort of opening the idea that like you can have sex with yourself. And that can also be a journey. This is something I’m personally very interested. First of all, a lot of women have problems with self-pleasure or masturbation because of a number of things. 

They might have come up in religious families where there could be a feeling that it’s wrong to do. 

Or it’s just not inspiring. It’s boring. It’s rote. It’s not unusual that someone could find it boring after a while, if you’re just by yourself.

But the cultivation of our sensuality is not just about getting to orgasm. And it is really something to give yourself to explore for example, a night in that is very sensual.

I have an exercise called the Visiting Dignitary which is basically playing this game with yourself and saying that a queen is coming to visit. You’re going to pick out something to satisfy everything of her senses. So something visual, something sound, something taste, something, I don’t know all the senses, plus something conceptual. Basically, it gets you to create a beautiful atmosphere. 

And then the trick is, Oh, the Queen canceled her visit. So the visiting dignitary is you. So you’ve created this lovely, sensual atmosphere for yourself. 

And then step two of this could be seducing yourself in the mirror. It could be, being in a self pleasure session that is more sensual with music. For example, Sensual Tantra Beats is a new good one that I discovered on Spotify.

I have a list of Sensual Resources. So if I’m thinking about putting it out there if people want it then then maybe this would help with this question. 

Yeah. 

(You can request the list here.)

What I’m giving you is a night in to dedicate to yourself and your sensuality and your sexuality. 

And you know, beyond that there can be the exploration of different sex toys. Different kinds of orgasms. Different kinds of sexual experiences you can have with yourself. I fully understand from my life experience that probably most people don’t only want to have solo sex and you probably do want to have sex with others. 

And yet, you will have better sex if you have solo sex with yourself, you will get to know yourself and you may have amazing experiences. So I wouldn’t say this is the only way but it’s like, I think really firmly putting the flag in the ground was like yeah, I’m single and I don’t have a partner and I’m still sexual. I can have solo sex. And there’s a bunch of other things I can do. I can go to workshops, I can go on a sexy vacation. 

I think it’s really important to do that because the sexual instinct dries up and it goes away and it just becomes distant. And so I mean, on the one hand is a drag to have to kind of consciously cultivate this on your own. I guess the the saving grace is a lot of couples struggle with this as well and there are a lot of people are in sexless marriages. So it’s kind of the same challenge that people in long-term relationships face about how to keep it fresh and how to keep it alive. 

It’s just not talked about as much though, is it?

No, we talk about couples drying up but gee, what happens when you’re on your own?

 Exactly. It’s funny you saying about the the I read an article the other day, and it was so interesting. The author was interviewing women between 20 and 70. So they were all in their own decades. I think it was the lady in in her 40s. She described how she taken herself away for a night in a hotel. She taken all of her sex toys with her. She got dressed up and went downstairs for a meal. She said that in the dining room there very much an opportunity arose. There was a guy in the room that she said, you know, she could have ended up having sex with him, but she chose her original plan which was to go back up, have a bath, and have her evening to herself. I was so inspired by that because you don’t read these things. You don’t see these things enough. And it’s and I think that’s really important to put across to single women. 

And another point that I would make is about learning about yourself and about what you like.

Surely that can then be taken into a relationship as maybe a form of confidence. You know, we are very people0pleasing. I know that a lot of women, most of them have probably experienced a sexual situation where it’s li okay, that’s it’s not really for me, so to be able to say to a partner, I like this. I don’t like that.  I think that that could really help somebody to explore themselves. 

Yeah. 100%

I mean, I think that the quality of connection that we can have with another person is very related to the quality of knowledge that we have of our own bodies and what knowing more about what we enjoy. I think that’s the most important thing. I can fall into this trap myself too. There can be a lot of tons of shame around sex, obviously, like especially the English culture, the American culture. These are cultures with so much repression and shaming around sex. And so even the idea of like when I say sex is important for you, whether you’re single or a couple or whatever, and that it’s a good thing to want to learn about sex. It doesn’t mean that there’s a deficiency. It means that you have a learning and growth mindset.

We have a sexuality and sensuality month in Turned-On Living. 

I was quite conscious about wanting us to adopt that as our mindset because otherwise, there can just be this feeling of defensiveness, or “No I’m okay,” or “Nothing wrong with my sexuality,” or you know, and really feeling inadequate. Either I’ve had too many partners. I haven’t had enough partners. There’s just so many ways to feel bad and broken. 

And the reality is that in some way, this is an exciting time because I would say in the arena of sexuality, there are more and more books, more sex toys, more resources than there ever had been before. 

If anyone wants that list of sexuality and sensuality resources, email me and I’ll point you to it because I created this list for the Turned-On Living group, and wow, there’s a ton of things you can do for a whole yearlong program. 

You can look at OMGYes which is videos of women who show how they touch themselves to climax and they talk about it so it’s very interesting, evidence-based stuff about how women achieve climax.

This is, you know, very explicit, and very much to learn from other women about what helps them and the individuality of each person.

And then you have something like the Erotic Blueprints which was created by this woman Jaiya, which is all these sort of different types that a person can be sexually like you could be an energetic, could be a sensual. You could be a sexual, which is what we normally think of as sex. Or kinky. 

Sex, Love & Goop is a great series. That leads people through all these different problems and coaching that they get around their body and sexuality. I don’t that sort has been a time when there’s been more about sexuality and sensuality that’s available to us.

It’s still it’s quite a rare interest. I’m realizing now I’m a sex geek, like I’ve always been into this.

This is kind of my thing.

But more and more people are getting are exploring that way. And I mean, I would say that’s a good thing about today. 

Just actually you just mentioned though I’m aware of the time.

WHAT IS TURNED-ON LIVING? AND WHAT I DO WITH MY CLIENTS

Because we were chatting beforehand as well, wasn’t it? Um, Sasha, you just mentioned about turned-on living. And so you’re a life and executive coach for women. 40-plus, aren’t you, helping with turned-on lives, careers and businesses? Can you just give me that in a nutshell what you’re what you’re doing.

So I talked about Turned-On Living as a way of talking about people living authentically and in ways that feel true to them and exciting. Turned-On Living is also this group program that I started last year and I’ll run the second year of soon. And it’s really a philosophy I would say a body connection and tuning into your body as a way of knowing your true feelings, emotions, desires.

I created this curriculum that goes for 12 months with different topics from self compassion, to boldness to prioritizing pleasure, sexuality and sensuality, anti-people-pleasing is a big one. 

So I find that a lot of my clients have this tendency of being more nice than they want to be. And that has a way of draining turn on or lifeforce energy when you’re doing things you don’t really want to do.

My work is about empowerment, and there’s this body connection. Some of my clients are executives and very high level and then I have clients who are not that and are regular people.

WORKING WITH SENSUALITY AND SEXUALITY, AT EVERY AGE

But and I really I love working with people who have this openness to their body connection and if they want to talk about sensuality, sexuality, yes. I mean, it’s, it’s funny. It’s just one of my greatest joys in life is helping someone to have better sex lives.

I love it. I love turning women on and especially single women to the possibility of connecting with their own sexuality and sexual energy because otherwise is this feeling that we’re left to die on the vine. Especially as we get older, and it’s like, Do you get to still feel alive? 

Yes, you do. Like, of course, and there are women who specifically focused on sex for older people, and they’re doing this work too. (See Joan Price.) Like you said before, somewhere in our conversation, we can just get better we can know ourselves more we can have different sex, better sex. We can feel more.

I see sex as an infinite journey, that there’s always more to uncover and experience. 

There is absolutely and especially with different partners as well. Everybody is different. So Sasha, thank you so much. I have enjoyed this conversation. So, so much, I really have.

HOW TO STAY IN TOUCH

Could you just just let us know, where can people find you and also, if they wanted you to email the list as well?

Go to my website, sashacagen.com, go to the newsletter page and sign up there because that’s the best way to be in touch also can follow me on Instagram but the newsletter is where I really share with people.

If you want that list, then just send me an email. Once you’re on the newsletter list, we’ll be in contact. 

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Reading two prologues for Wet in Ubud, Bali, at the Hidden Space Cafe: Which one captivates you more?

I came to Bali for these past two months to immerse myself in my writing, specifically, to make progress on Wet, a very dear-to-me memoir I have been working on for a long time. I am very pregnant with this book after 12 years of working on it in isolation, and I am excited to share it with you soon. Don’t ask me when, but I suspect I may be in the final trimester.

The best way I can describe this book as a mashup is Eat Pray Love meets The Body Keeps the Score meets Quirkyalone.

Eat Pray Love because it’s a spiritual journey where the lessons happen through travel in South America, and through an adventure of sensuality, from wearing a bikini for the first time in public at the age of 36 to letting my boundaries be crossed at a Love Motel in Brazil in a complicated threesome. There’s a lot more making out than in EPL, however! LOL.

The Body Keeps the Score because it’s the story of healing buried childhood trauma (sexual abuse) through connecting to the wisdom of my body (and tango).

Quirkyalone because this book is in a follow-up to my first one, where I wrestle with being single at midlife, the shame of never having a romantic relationship last longer than six months, and how I began to heal the effects of that trauma and open myself up to a deeper love.

Part of writing a book is getting lots of feedback along the way. All writing projects require iteration, both from the writer’s own gut instinct about how to tell  the story, and from early readers who let us know what’s resonating and where they stumble.

Last week I had the chance to participate in a reading series in Ubud, where I have spent most of the last two months. I chose Ubud for this creative retreat for a million reasons. “Ubud” means “medicine” or “healing.” This is a healing place, and healing is what Wet is all about.

I decided to use the reading as a kind of writing group.

I created a game of sharing two different prologues with the audience. I asked them to tell me which one captivated them more. The function of a prologue is to sketch out the story in the book, and entice the reader to want to turn the page and begin chapter one. So captivation is key!

You can see a short clip of the first two minutes of my reading below in this blog post or here.

If you would like to play along in the game, and hear me read the two prologues in their entirety, and tell me what captivates you more, I would love that.

To get access, you need to be part of the WET INNER CIRCLE. You can sign up to be part of it here.

What is the WET INNER CIRCLE and why am I sharing the longer video of me reading these two prologues only with people who are on that list?

When working on a long project, it’s a delicate matter to determine what to share with whom. I don’t want to share all the messy details of the intimate creative process with the whole Internet, people who don’t get it, or are not interested. That kind of indiscriminate sharing does not appeal to me.

I do want to share with people who are genuinely interested in this book and creative process, and well, thirsty for it! People who are a soul fit.

If you are part of the WET INNER CIRCLE, you will also get a sneak peek into the creative process, and hopefully, a little more wet. We’ll discover together what that means.

After you sign up, I will send you an email asking you a key question, so stay tuned.

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Live from Ubud, Bali–Learn about Turned-On Living with me on a Community Zoom!

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After taking a two-year break from working on my latest book Wet (because I was severely burned out on this project–let’s say, I had even grown DRY), I came to Bali to work on the manuscript again, because I had an intuition that spending two months on this very special island could help me get this project out into the world.

Things are going well enough in my creative work that I am feeling the freedom to come out of my cave of isolation and take time to connect with you, my dear readers and clients, past, present and future, about Turned-On Living, in a LIVE ZOOM from BALI!

What is TURNED-ON LIVING? My new and favorite way to explain Turned-On Living goes like this.

We all have a light inside of us. That inner flame can be strengthened through care, attention, and community support, or it can go dark in all the pressures of modern life in an individualist society, when our inner critic takes control, and when we are focused purely on checking off our ever-expanding to-do lists. Our lists also go dark when we don’t have clarity about what we really want or boundaries to protect what is most precious to us.

Turned-On Living is my yearlong small group coaching program that brings together women who resonate with my work: my books Quirkyalone and To-Do List, the embodiment practice Pussywalking that I created to help women  step into their power, and my philosophy about living your life to the fullest whether you are single or partnered.

Turned-On Living teaches you how to keep your inner candle lit, so that you can live a turned-on life, whatever that looks like for you. It will also help you get clear about what you really want for your life, through connecting with your body. We do this work together, while practicing being vulnerable and real, in community.

Is Turned-On Living of interest to you? A new small group of women will begin this life-changing adventure with me again in September.

Turned-On Living is about the long game of transformation. I don’t believe in quick fixes or that epiphanies can do the work of change for us. Because it’s a big deal to spend a whole year together, I want to start the conversation now, early.

My eyes and ears are “casting” the group, bringing together the right mix of people to support each other. I have in-depth interviews with each person to create the right chemistry in the group of safety and care.

So here’s the plan. Let’s start the conversation now in April to create the magic.

On Tuesday, April 9, at 8 pm ET, 5 pm PT… let’s connect on Zoom! Sign up here.

What: A Live Zoom about Turned-On Living from Bali.

What we will do: First, we will dance, because we start every Turned-On Living meeting with dancing.

Then I will walk you through the curriculum of what we do in Turned-On Living, month-by-month. Each month has a theme, so I will tell you about  what you will get out of each experiential adventure (from Embodied Self-Compassion and Prioritizing Pleasure to Anti-People-Pleasing and Boldness).

I’ll point out a few commonalities that I am seeing in the Balinese approach to life and spirituality and my approach in Turned-On Living. Now that I have spent seven weeks total on this island (between my first trip in September 2023 and this current one), I am forming impressions about what makes Bali so special. There’s a lot to learn from Balinese people, who truly operate according to “karma.”

You can ask me any questions you have… and we’ll chat!

When: Tuesday, April 9, 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.

I’ll get up early to share with you at 8 am Ubud time. I can show you some scenes of the extremely green, beautiful rice fields where I am staying in the very unique neighborhood Penestanan.

How long: We will go for about an hour, maybe 75 minutes. Be sure to come on time! If you can’t make it, you will get a recording. But you need to sign up to get it.

Why join? If you are interested in Turned-On Living, if you are interested in Bali, if you want to connect.

See you there!

xo

Sasha

P.S.  The deadline to apply to be part of the TOL 2024 group starting in September is July 1.

Spaces are limited because everything I do is intimate. Do you already feel called to be part of this? To get the ball rolling and secure your place, fill out this form and tell me more about you.

Preparing for a Water Purification Ritual, led by Luh, a Balinese spiritual guide

Luh leading me down the path to the water temple in a part of Ubud that has until now escaped notice from tourists… ahhhhh

  My friend Naja invited me to his temple, and I was the only non-Balinese person among more than 2,000 people present for a ceremony that coincided with the New Moon in March. Naja said it’s fine to share photos, and Luh agreed. I felt very privileged to be there. I’ll be sharing more about that experience in a separate blog post.

At work in Bali in the heat.

At Nirwa Homestay, one of the lovely places where I have stayed over the last month

This photo was taken on Organic Sari Walk. The sunsets along Ubud’s rice fields are stunning.

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“Body-shamed” in Singapore

No make-up, fresh off the overnight plane. Marc happened to take this picture so you can see the dress.

A good foot massage is one of my favorite things.

The day after I landed in Singapore, my friend Marc and I went hunting for a foot massage place as part of our walking tour. I needed some TLC after a rough overnight trip from Istanbul, a small excursion that wouldn’t take too much out of me since I had barely slept. When someone massages my feet, especially when they push certain pressure points, my entire body relaxes, often putting me to sleep.

We both agreed it was a good plan.

We walked through a small mall filled with tailors, maid service agencies matching Singaporean clients with domestic workers from Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Phillippines, and lots of foot massage places, not unlike the kind you find in California where the client sits in a chair with his or her feet up.

We finally settled on one that could accommodate both of us. Marc likes to pick places that are highly rated online. My method is to choose randomly. Risk-taking: roll the dice. Usually, my approach works. Well, this day it didn’t.

My male therapist gestured for me to sit down in the chair, and asked, “Are you pregnant? I need to know for massage.”

What? Flummoxed, I didn’t respond. The shock on my face must have been his answer. Did this guy not get the memo? Don’t ask a woman if she is pregnant ever! This is not a good question. The last person who asked me if I was pregnant was a seven-year-old girl who lived in my apartment building in Buenos Aires. I never forgot that moment in the elevator. Marc joked later that you should only ask a woman if she is pregnant if the baby is already crowning (coming out).

It got worse, if you can believe it. A red, blue, and yellow foot sign flashed near the door. I asked him to turn it off midway because the lights agitated me. I wasn’t resting during the massage, as I hoped I would. When the hour was over, he asked my age.

“You are doing good.” He told me I looked five years younger than I am. “Eat well, sleep well, little back pain, you can tell everything from the feet.”

Two-thirds of those things are true. I eat well and occasionally suffer from lower back pain, and I sleep okay. I feel ambivalent when people tell me I look younger than I am. Like most people, I enjoy compliments but what’s wrong with looking one’s age? Little did I know that it was remarkable for this man to pay me a compliment at all.

“You have a spare tire,” he said.

“What?” I asked. My jaw must have actually dropped.

“Fat.”

“What!” He called me fat! Or told me I “have fat.” I was speechless, but I couldn’t stop asking, “What?”

Marc said later that he wished I would stop asking questions so the conversation would end, but I couldn’t. This foot massage had turned into a car crash.

He continued, “Exercise. You have to take care of it,” pointing to my waist and then his own, “Exercise is the only way.”

Yeah, dude, I know about exercise.

Marc paid for both of us, thank goddess; I didn’t want to pay a Singaporean cent for his mediocre massage, which put far more tension into my body than it relaxed!

When we got outside, we obviously had to dissect the horror of what had just happened.

“Do you think I should go back and tell him off?” I asked. “If I speak up, maybe I will feel better.”

“You could, but I don’t think it would matter. He hears and says that kind of thing a hundred times a day. It’s the culture in Singapore. It’s the water they swim in. This is how people talk to each other.” In essence, Marc was saying that in Singapore, people think they are doing each other a favor by pointing out each other’s flaws.

“Do I look fat?”

“Your body is fine. Come on.”

My mind was still reeling. Did he actually call me fat? Did that just happen?

Marc has lived and worked in Singapore for seven years. “I have a friend who works with a personal trainer,” he told me. “She had to sit down with him over a drink and tell him that she wasn’t coming to him for comments about her body. That’s not what she wanted out of personal training. He stopped but only after she had to have a separate meeting with him to get him to understand.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s probably not worth it to confront him because I don’t have an ongoing relationship with him.”

Singapore is a multi-ethnic society, and people of Chinese ancestry make up about three-quarters of the population. I started connecting the dots between what had just happened to me and stories I have heard from Chinese-American friends and clients who have shared with me about their parents relentlessly criticizing them, as if pointing out flaws is how you express love. Now I had felt the sting of it myself. What I experienced was miniscule compared to what they have gone through, but it was a taste. Ouch.

“They actually seem to think they are helping by criticizing,” I said. Of course, people in the U.S. also criticize each other’s bodies, but we are more likely to do it silently inside our own minds. It’s a very common thought error in the U.S. to believe that we are going to improve when we call out our own “flaws.” As a life coach, some of the most important work I do with my clients is to help people replace (or partially replace) their inner critic voice with a more compassionate, gentle, supportive one. Change takes root when we are kind to ourselves because we get stronger rather than weaker.

Marc pointed out that it could be valuable for me to have had this experience because it would help me to empathize with Chinese-American friends and clients. That’s true.

He urged me to not give his comments any power. Anyone can say anything to us, but only we can decide whether to remember their words or give those comments weight (pun intended).

Of course, Marc was right but I couldn’t let go of the doubts immediately. I’m human. I’m dealing with my own aging body over here, just like everyone else. For the rest of the afternoon, I kept looking in mirrors as we passed glassy buildings and mirrors in shops to check out how the dress, a piece of clothing that I actually adore, looks on my middle. It’s the perfect travel dress because it’s lightweight, easy to pack, and never wrinkles. I also consider it a sexy dress. Did it accentuate my belly? Should I still wear it at all? Had I gained weight? I hadn’t stepped on a scale in two weeks because I was traveling.

I’m proud to say that I let all these questions go by the next day, and I’m no longer giving that man any real estate in my mind.

The truth is I have spent the last fifteen years engaged in a journey of learning how to see myself as beautiful after a mild case of body dysmorphia (a mental health label for fixating on perceived flaws in your own appearance). No one gave me that diagnosis, but I would say body dysmorphia is cultural in the U.S. too because we are taught to see our bodies as projects to fix.

After a few days, I came back to my own hard-won baseline, feeling good about myself as a luscious, unskinny woman who has a sweet little belly. My philosophy as a life coach is that our relationship with our bodies is one of the most valuable things that we have. We live inside our bodies; they are our homes. When we get in touch with our body’s sensations, we can be more in touch with what we want and make better decisions for our lives. What happens when we shame or criticize our own bodies? We become self-conscious. We lose that innate connection. We lose our power. And we might not even want to leave our own homes to allow ourselves to be seen.

The next day I called my Chinese-American friend and told her the story. She shrieked, “How is that any of his business? He body-shamed you. I won’t get a foot massage in Singapore.”

My friend’s comment was funny, and that’s why I am including it.

Is the moral of the story, “Don’t get a foot massage in Singapore?” Maybe. Ha. I’m not sure that the language “body-shaming” applies in Singapore since it’s a U.S. construct.

If you are in Singapore en route to Bali, I would say, Wait, and get your feet  massaged in Bali. Since I arrived three weeks ago, I have gotten a handful. Foot massages in Bali cost a fifth of the Singaporean price, and they are far, far, far more blissful.  No massage therapist in Bali ever made a comment about my body, negative or positive.  All they care about is helping me relax. And that’s the point of a good foot massage, is it not?

Developing a more self-compassionate relationship with yourself, and a more affirming relationship with your body and your sensuality are two things we focus on in Turned-On Living my yearlong group coaching program for a small group of intrepid women who are drawn to my work.

A new cohort starts in June. A self-marriage (or soul commitment) ceremony is part of the experience. Does that scare you? Perfect. Transformative things by their very nature push us outside of our comfort zones.

Curious about Turned-On Living? The next group will begin together in September–back to school energy, out of the slog and into turned-on living. Read more on this page, and fill out the form telling me about you. I talk to each person to create a magical group of sensitive, caring women.

I am going to do a live community Zoom from Bali this April to tell you about what I’m learning in this culture from Balinese people, and how those lessons intersect with the yearlong adventure we go on together in Turned-On Living. Make sure you are signed up on the newsletter to get the invite!

And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send a message.

Overheard in Bali at the Yoga Barn: “I would rather go home and use my yoni egg”

Overheard in Bali at the Yoga Barn: “I would rather go home and use my yoni egg”

 

in Bali

I was sitting at the cafe in the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, almost a small college campus of yoga and spirituality when I overheard three women talking.

“Then she said, I would rather go home and use my yoni egg at the end of the acro-yoga class. She said we need to normalize it. Just talk about it.”

I smiled to myself and knew I would have to join this conversation.

Yoni eggs, if you are not aware, are egg-shaped stones that women insert in their vaginal canals to help increase blood flow, tone, and sensation in the pelvic floor muscles for their well-being. There’s a debate about whether yoni eggs are safe to use, and I actually do have an opinion, but I’m not going to wade into that controversy now. Because that’s not the point of this blog post, and really, their conversation was more about the boldness of using the term “yoni egg” in casual conversation more than it was about the practice itself. That’s what I’m most interested in writing about too: the language.

“I teach about that,” I interjected from across the table. We were sitting on loungey, couch-like things. Yoga Barn is a place where it’s easy to strike up conversations with strangers. It’s probably one of the places in the world where you are most likely to overhear people talking about “yoni eggs.”

“What do you teach?” one of the women asked.

“I teach pussywalking,” I said, and let that bomb drop. Using the word “pussy” in casual conversation is probably even more radical than talking about yoni eggs, but now that I have been teaching pussywalking for ten years I have gotten accustomed to the joy of letting the shock of the word set in on people’s faces.

“What’s pussywalking?” two of them asked at once.

I explained that I teach women, and now even men sometimes actually, to connect with their bodies through breath and other awareness practices to source their personal power, energy, and confidence from the pelvic region of their bodies. I talked about the tremendous sensitivity of the internal clitoris that exists inside our bodies, beyond the little external dot that we are taught to think of as the clit. I explained that the pussy can be a hidden source of power. And of course, even using the word “pussy” can be transformative.

In the last round of Turned-On Living, my yearlong group coaching program (adventure), getting over the taboo of saying the word itself was a huge conversation among the women. One of the women in the group even practiced by writing the word “pussy” more than fifty times on a small piece of paper and posted it to our Whatsapp group. The image was so funny and cute.

When I was growing up, the only time I heard the p-word was when young men in Camaros shouted the word out to us young women on the streets of Providence. The p-word was some kind of bizarre insult. Of course, it’s meant to convey weakness, when the truth is the opposite: our pussies are quite strong.

Actually, I like the p-word. It’s cute and cuddly and funny, unlike the c-word. I only got to this level of comfort of reclaiming “pussy” after years of immersion in female sexuality workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area where others used it and normalized it for me. Getting used to saying it out loud was a process that took time, just like it was for the women in Turned-On Living.

There are a lot of hidden benefits of getting comfortable with using taboo language and talking about our sexuality and sexual energy. When you get into bed with someone, you can be more comfortable with talking about your body. You an also more easily talk about sex (and bodies) with other women.

In Turned-On Living, we talk about “pussy energy” and practice pussywalking for an entire year while I bring together all I know about empowering yourself as a woman in this world. Along the ride, we get really good at talking about our “pussies.”

I interviewed each woman at the end of the year to find out what was most transformative for each of them. One of them told me that using the word many times over the year helped her find her voice in general, in relationships with men, with setting boundaries, with talking about what she wants and likes and what she doesn’t.

Here’s some of what she shared with me: “As a Gen X person, I grew up and became sexually mature at a time when consent was not a part of the landscape. Our bodies were dirty and dangerous. That was the underlying message of society’s narrative. The way to stay safe was to cover up our bodies and shut them down, and then turn them back on, on-demand, to please and tend to the needs of men in socially sanctioned sexual relationships. That led to disconnection from the tender, vulnerable parts of my body.  

Pussywalking has stimulated my dormant body awareness, much like a body scan does, and gives me agency over my body and female genitals. Embodiment is so big and so new for me (the journey began before Turned-On Living) that I don’t know how or what to articulate about it.

But I can say this: normalizing that I do have a pussy, and there’s energy there, is big for me. I mean, I’ve had a great sex life. Been there, done that. It’s been wonderful. But I think underneath that early social conditioning, that it’s dirty, and unsafe, and you need to lock it up and hide it away. Because that’s what we heard: ‘You’re gonna have your period. You’re going to get pregnant. You’re going to get an STD.’ There’s never anything positive said about the pussy. So I think this was a space where so much positive was said about the pussy, like, “Take a moment get in touch with your pussy.” Oh my gosh, I’m thinking about my pussy right now and saying that out loud to other women. Wow. So yeah, it’s almost indelible, I almost can’t articulate the power of it.”

Yes, reclaiming this language is big–which is why those women were talking about using the word “yoni egg” out loud and why I am talking to you about reclaiming the p-word.

 

 

I’m in Bali for the next two months focused on a creative project. In between this deep dive into my writing, talking with my 1:1 clients, and doing Kundalini yoga, I am forming the new special group of women who will be part of the next Turned-On Living cohort. We start in June and go for a year. We meet once for a soul-commitment ceremony retreat. The max group size is ten, so the experience is intimate. You learn what I have learned about female empowerment in order to create the life you want, by connecting with your body. The intimacy (and my unique teachings) make the group special.

I will do a Zoom session sometime soon from my place in Bali to talk you through the curriculum so you can find out about what you’ll learn in the community experience of Turned-On Living. Be sure you are on my newsletter list if you want to be invited.

If you are feeling called to Turned-On Living, you can write me and request a copy of the curriculum. I talk with each person to form the right chemistry in the group: like-minded women with a shared goal of living a turned-on life.

Curious? Tell me more about you and what draws you to Turned-On Living when you fill out this simple form.

 

Throwing up in Doha–and the Courage to Travel Alone

one of the enchanting pedestrian streets in Istanbul, on the European side in Cihangir. Just loved those umbrellas!

I left some audios for a close friend last night, and she wrote me back, “I love living vicariously through your travel adventures,” and “‘Throwing Up in Doha’ is a great title for a memoir.” This isn’t a full-blown memoir. It’s a humble blog post. But I will tell you the story of throwing up in Doha, anyway. (Doha is the capital of Qatar, in case you didn’t know–I don’t judge you. I didn’t know either. And it’s only in the last year that I learned to pronounce “Qatar.”)

I left that message with a friend to let her know that I have been going through a lot since leaving for this trip on February 14. My first stop was Istanbul for a week, then four days in Singapore, and soon I will be heading on to Bali for two months where I will continue to work with my clients remotely and focus on a creative project. My hope is that the availability of cheap healing massages and the energetic magic of Kundalini yoga will help me make headway on a writing project. I am very happy that I am finally living this dream, which took a ton of work to make possible.

But man, woman, nonbinary person, it’s been a rough two weeks. To recap, my father has been in and out of the hospital twice in the moment when I was about to leave the US and then a week later when I was due to fly from Turkey. It’s hard for me as an eldest child to step back and let my younger siblings, who are wonderful, and totally on it, take responsibility when I am away. There’s guilt to feel, and to release. Luckily, blessedly, after a ton of uncertainty, my father is doing much better, so we are all tremendously grateful.

There have been other things, like getting accidentally punched by a woman in a Turkish hamam, and living through a corneal abrasion for two days. Yes, the hamam experience was fantastic, and the inside of your eye can hurt badly when someone hits it. During these travels, there has been a relationship issue where I realize that I have been deluding myself in fantasy, longing for something that was never an option. and that has been humbling to face. My goddess it’s hard when I realize that I make the same mistakes over and over again. That comes up for a lot of us as we get older. There’s been a lot of looking in the mirror, and getting punched in the face. What can I say? It’s brave to look in the mirror. It’s the only way to evolve.

a snuggly street cat cozies up to the door of the place where I stayed with a friend in Kadikoy

But back to Turkey. Istanbul is spectacular, bursting with history, culture, street cats (watch the lovely documentary Kedi to learn about how Turkish people care for stray felines communally), food, warm people, and very flirtatious men. The cab driver from the airport told me I looked twenty-seven. That’s pushing it! Istanbul is a completely unique city that brings together the secular and the nonsecular, but also overwhelming. Fifteen million people live in Turkey’s capital, more than New York. Istanbul is the biggest city in Europe and straddles the Bosphorous, a natural waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. It covers more land mass than New York City.

On one side is Europe, and on the other lies Asia. I stayed on the Asian side in Kadikoy, which is said to be calm compared to the European side, but this bohemian alcove of a million coffeeshops still thrums with energy and bars, restaurants, and bazaars (markets). I have never been in a place with more cafes! Almost every day I went over to the European side, which could be a journey that took three or four forms of public transport or a cab ride that could take an hour and a half because of hellish traffic. I stayed out late four nights during that week, mostly at milongas dancing tango. All of this added up to exhaustion by the time I was packing my bags.

By the time I left for Singapore, I was depleted, beyond needing a vacation from this vacation. The flight from Istanbul to Doha was the most cramped I have ever been on. I was seated between an unsmiling woman and an unsmiling man. There was a very strange moment when, after I asked the flight attendant for a drink, and she passed me a tiny can of Diet Coke, the woman turned to me and asked if it was possible for me to not drink a Coke near her. I said, “I don’t understand,” because I was frankly flummoxed. She darted up and out to the first class section, and stayed there until we landed.

To say I was rattled would be an understatement. I hadn’t slept more than three or four hours a night in several nights, and all the stress was catching up with me. I had the irrational thoughts that I had traumatized this woman, and she cursed me. By the time we landed in Qatar, where I would be catching the next flight to Singapore, the pressure in my head started to squeeze my brain. I’ve had about 10 or 15 migraines in my life of varying intensity. Sometimes I throw up. Something must connect the gut and brain in the migraine state. So that was the situation, probably borne out of lack of sleep and stress. I was shielding my eyes to block the light on the way through the massive Doha airport (the number one thing to do in this state is to seek darkness) and then I found the most luxuriously, blessedly pristine bathroom by the gate. I threw up in the bathroom a few times, telling myself, “This is miserable but I will get through this.” That was my mantra.

When I saw myself in the mirror I thought, I do not look well. Why remember the bad moments from traveling? Because they are all part of the mix. People say they want to live vicariously through my adventures. Well, traveling can be quite challenging at times, especially in a city like Istanbul that is so vast with so many hidden places and confusing directions. But I love it. I still love to travel, and often I travel alone. Traveling is worth throwing up in Doha: I guess that is what I am trying to say.

While I was in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul, I made this little video about the courage to travel alone, and the angels that help us when we run into problems. I was inspired to make this video by a conversation that I had with a Turkish woman whom I met in a remarkably friendly cafe called Tribu (Italian for “tribe.”) (Watch this little spontaneous video I made with the owner to learn about the cafe–and maybe someday you will visit).

This woman who had worked for the Smithsonian in DC after doing a masters in art history in the US was telling me about a solo trip that she had taken to a Greek island, and a moment when her phone didn’t work and she couldn’t find the place where she was staying. Someone came along to help her find her hotel. That sounded familiar. That is my experience too. Countless times when I have been traveling alone in South America, Europe, and Asia people have helped me when I was lost, sick, or injured.

Angels do come to help. Many of my coaching clients want to travel alone but they get worried with reasonable concerns. I made this video below to encourage other women to travel alone. Because even though shitty things like “Throwing up in Doha” happen, I would still say that traveling alone is worth it. More than worth it. It makes our world bigger. It makes us feel alive, More things happen when we are alone. And we are never totally alone. Angels will come forward. It’s important to acknowledge that and be grateful for them. 

Here’s the video I made for you walking through the streets of Kadikoy in Istanbul about solo travel. I hope you enjoy.

Are you planning any travels, solo or not? Let me know in the comments.

Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones, or, Learning to develop your “oh honey” self-compassionate voice

Do you worry that there might be something wrong with you because you are still single?

Then, watch the above class, Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones! Let me know how it goes for you when you do the journaling exercise we do together to develop your self-compassionate voice, and what you learn from the others who attended live, and who shared so bravely and freely.

Here’s a full disclosure. I asked ChatGPT to list the top ten self-critical thoughts of single people. I wrote, “What are the actual self-critical thoughts that single people say to themselves? In quotation marks, inside someone’s head.” The AI machine spit out results, and I edited them to make them more real based on what I have heard from the people I have coached and talked with over the last 20 years, since publishing my first book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.

Note: I have mixed feelings about ChatGPT, and negative feelings about AI, so I am being transparent with you in service of keeping the human vibe going in my newsletter and blog. The robots are coming!

Here’s the edited list:

  • “I’m still single. What’s wrong with me?”
  • “Everyone else seems to be in a relationship. So, again, what’s wrong with me? Am I unlovable?”
  • “Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I should settle for someone to avoid being alone.”
  • “I must be undesirable if I can’t seem to find a partner.”
  • “If I were more attractive/confident/successful/not messy/some non-specific thing that no one could ever really say, maybe I’d have better luck finding a partner.”
  • “I always mess things up in relationships. Maybe I’m just not cut out for love in this lifetime.”
  • “I’m falling behind in life because I’m not in a relationship like everyone else.”
  • “What if I end up alone forever? Will I regret my choices?”
  • “Maybe I need to change myself to fit what others want in a partner.”
  • “Will I ever find someone who truly wants to commit to me? Why would they want to commit to me? I have so many problems.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

The key to turning the self-critical voice around is first learning to recognize the thoughts as critical, rather than the “truth.” The second step is learning that another voice can take the mic.

Developing an “oh honey” self-compassionate voice can literally change your life. It has mine.

If you struggle with any of the above thoughts in your head, I implore you to watch the video above, an hourlong community free online class I taught to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of my first book Quirkyalone! This was an extraordinary gathering with wonderful people, and the information shared can make an impact on anyone’s life. Let me know what you discover in the comments.

P.S. We spend a whole month on self-compassion in Turned-On Living, my yearlong group coaching adventure that goes for real transformation in a curated group of women. I’ve noticed that developing the “oh-honey” self-compassionate voice is the game-changing first step, and the foundation, for any meaningful change. If we don’t work on self-compassion first, we lose all our energy beating up on ourselves as soon as we start to go outside our comfort zones.

If you want to build the life-changing skill of being kind to yourself, you have to practice. It’s not so different from going to the gym, or learning tango or any other dance. You have to practice to see results. The best way to learn anything new is to do it in community with others who share the journey. That’s why I created Turned-On Living as a curated small group program.

We get started in June. The group is forming now. Check out the page and see if it’s calling you.

Celebrating 20 years of the Quirkyalone Movement on Zoom

This month we are celebrating twenty years of the quirkyalone movement since the publication of my book Quirkyalone: A.Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. 

The publication date of Quirkyalone was January 6, 2004. On the morning of Saturday, January 6, 2024, I decided to be spontaneous. I sent out a message to my newsletter list inviting people to join in for a Zoom session to honor the day of publication that very afternoon.

Lots of people responded! (If you are not on the newsletter list yet, what are you waiting for? This is how you get invited to such special impromptu gatherings!)

In the Zoom session (watch above!), I was blown away by the people who showed up and the stories they shared about how the book hit them in their lives way back when, and how they have carried Quirkyalone with them as an important foundational concept. 

We were joined by Walt Jacobs who has been part of the quirkyalone movement since nearly 2000 and strongly identifies as a married quirkyalone, and people like Rosemary who had just heard about Quirkyalone in the last few weeks. We were joined from people all over the world in fact, from Russia to Australia to Canada to people all over the US.

The beat goes on! While there are a lot more podcasts, books, and movies out there portraying the lives and choices of people who don’t settle in love,  and consequently spend quite a bit of time being single, the message of Quirkyalone will never stop being relevant because it makes room for all of a complex experience: enjoying being single, wanting love and intimacy at the same time.

I am always moved by the kind-hearted nature of the people who join Quirkyalone events too. In twenty years, that’s one thing that has not changed.

During the Zoom session, I read the original 700-word essay, a highly crafted piece of writing that I spent over a year laboring over obsessively, as it was published in my own magazine To-Do List back in 2000, and then Utne Reader. So settle in for some story time.

Listen in and let us know when you first encountered Quirkyalone!

If you are a loyal Quirkyalone reader–and there are a lot of you out there!– one of the best things you can do is to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That will help me get my next and third book Wet out to you. Your support is appreciated!

Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones: A Free Live Online Class to Celebrate the Book’s 20th Anniversary!

How do you learn how to love yourself no matter what, especially when things are not going well?

What: Join me, Sasha Cagen, life coach, author, and founder of the Quirkyalone movement, for a free class on learning how to be kind and gentle with yourself with the skill of embodied self-compassion.

You will learn about three practices of self-compassion that you can use in your everyday life to calm and center yourself with love. We will try out at least two or three of them together.

I am offering this special free class to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, because I want to connect with the many readers and clients who have been part of this journey for the last twenty years.

When I wrote Quirkyalone, I was only 30 and I wasn’t a life coach yet. I knew a lot, but I hadn’t spent 13 years yet helping others to evolve, heal, and get clear about what they really want in life and then live it. Now I know quite a LOT, and I would love to share some of the most life-changing things I have learned with you.

When: Sunday, January 21, 12 noon ET/9 am PT. Please change for your time zone! This class will go one hour, possibly 75 minutes if we need the time. Arrive on time!

Where: On Zoom. Sign up here to get the link! Enter your email and you will get the info.

Cost: This special class is free, and it’s done with love and joy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Quirkyalone, and to connect with all the wonderful clients and readers who have been part of my world over the last 20 years.

What to bring: A journal, your body and your willingness. We may dance!

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Despite years of “working on yourself,” do you still find yourself wondering, “Is there something wrong with me?” because you have been single for a long time, months, years, or decades?

Do you find it hard to be kind and gentle with yourself when you are out there navigating dating apps, dating, or thinking about dating?

When you get involved with someone, and things don’t work out, do you blame yourself? Or when you are navigating conflict in a current relationship or get triggered, do you gang up on yourself?

Would you like to learn how to come back to yourself as your own best friend and greatest supporter, especially in the places in life that make our quirkyalone hearts most vulnerable?

Now, that’s a tall order in this society that is designed to make us doubt ourselves, but let’s see what we can do!

I am hosting this special, unique “Self-Compassion for Quirkyalones MasterClass” as part of my 20th Anniversary to celebrate the publication of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, which came out with a big bang in 2004 (see chat with Anderson Cooper) and has been attracting kindred spirits ever since.

Learning to love yourself is the heart of the quirkyalone journey. Developing the self-compassionate voice is the heart of the journey we all go on, as we get older and learn to “mother” or “parent” ourselves. There is nothing more important than learning how to be gentle with yourself, which is why this class is useful and potentially life-changing for anyone.

But it’s definitely true that when you are single for a long time, and your life has not gone according to plan, whether it was your plan, or society’s, and you are doing hard things like putting yourself out there on dating apps looking for love (or sex, or whatever you are looking for!), you ESPECIALLY need to learn the skill of self-compassion. We can learn to have our own backs.

Self-compassion is a learned skill that they don’t teach in school (I wish they would!).
It took me more than a decade as a life coach working full-time, and twenty years as the author of Quirkyalone to learn the deep importance of self-compassion myself when I was going through a brutal breakup.

When I finally learned actual practices of self-compassion that I could use on a daily basis as a balm and a corrective, I felt my own inner world shift. I could FEEL self-compassion as a warmth in my heart, to identify self-critical thoughts as they are happening, and create a more loving, “honey, it’s OK” voice in my head to soothe myself.

I have come to see self-compassion as one of the most important practices that has changed my life, and the lives of my clients. I want to offer this class as the skill we delve into, and I am so looking forward to sharing with you.

How to join us? Go here to enter your email address.

You will get the Zoom info over email.

If you are not already on my newsletter list, be sure to sign up there too so you can hear about events beyond this 20th-Anniversary celebration.

Here is a Facebook event invite you can share to invite friends. This class is open to all.

I can’t wait to see you!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them here as a comment or send a message.

It’s time for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Quirkyalone!

My first book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics was published on January 6, 2004.

We are coming up on the twentieth anniversary of its publication! I was in a state of shock when I realized it a couple of weeks ago.

So much happened in those first few months of publication in 2004. The book made a lot of waves!

I got up to do about six interviews a day for two months straight. (Which resulted in a big insomnia crisis that took two years to recover from, if you want to know the truth.)

That time was a whirlwind of talking with Anderson Cooper on CNN, meeting people who passionately identified with the quirkyalone idea on book tour and then at the launch party in SF at the club, The Rickshaw Stop, that attracted 350 people. The Fire Department came to shut down the party.

Quirkyalone also led to so many future events, friendships and conversations. It led to “quirkyalone” becoming an official slang word on dictionary.com.
I am still in awe and in deep gratitude and perplexity over it all.

I am going to do a kind of appreciation of that moment and all that led up to Quirkyalone, including the publication of the essay in the premiere issue of my magazine To-Do List (where the idea first appeared) in 2000.

This appreciation will take the form of a kind of retrospective on Instagram and in my newsletter. In January, I will do some free online events (TBD) to honor the best of where Quirkyalone has taken me and us over the last 20 years, all I have learned in helping people with identify with the quirkyalone spirit of self-love along the path of finding love, within yourself, with others.

If you are not following along my Instagram or newsletter, sign up! I will put the links in the comments.

Time to reclaim January 6.

Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter (my primary way of staying in connection with readers and clients).

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