I clicked on his link and there it was–my baby “quirkyalone” on dictionary.com!
I had no idea!
My immediate thought: Whoah, I’m done! My life’s work is complete! I put a word on dictionary.com! I don’t know if this is as official as getting into Merriam-Webster but I will revel it in anyway.
The folks at dictionary.com actually did a great job telling the history of the coining in the original essay in my magazine To-Do List, and spread of quirkyalone after my book Quirkyalone came out in 2004. Be sure to scroll down below the definition on dictionary.com to read the etymology along with popular usage in tweets. Remember: it’s “quirkyalone”–all one word.
Quirkyalone making it into dictionary.com (we have truly arrived folks!) is the best news for the leadup to the 17th annual International Quirkyalone Day on February 14. Quirkyalone Day is an alternative holiday that celebrates all forms of love, including self-love, and it’s been going strong since 2003 with celebrations around the globe. If you are looking for another way to celebrate on February 14 that honors everyone and every kind of love, this is your holiday.
Two folks on opposite sides of the U.S. have gotten in touch wanting to share their Quirkyalone Day Events.
In the Bay Area, we have a Valentine’s Day Concert coming up with the Conspiracy of Venus women’s chorus, Friday, Feb 14 at 9 pm, which a shoutout to quirkyalones from the choral director of Old Firsts Concerts Matt Wolka. Conspiracy of Venus is “a powerful 25-woman vocal ensemble interprets the songs of greats like David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Björk, Joni Mitchell, Pixies, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, and many more.” For more info on the concert check here! On a side note, my best friend the unforgettable most radiant Annie Millar Desmond who passed away last year from cancer (and helped me proofread Quirkyalone–she was so invested in this concept) sang in Conspiracy of Venus for years. This is an incredible group of women who lifted Annie up in her last months. Annie loved being part of the group.
[During Sue’s Tango Adventure, I did an interview with Sue on what drew her from northern Alaska grizzly bear country to the wilds of tango here with us in Buenos Aires. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get word when the video is edited. It’s a chance to discover a totally different side of Sue Aikens, a most fascinating woman.]
So guess what everybody! We had the amazing, unfathomable Susan Aikens, star of the show National Geographic documentary series “Life Below Zero” with us here in Buenos Aires for a Tango Adventure! Sue is an outdoorswoman, adventurer, survivor, hunter, angler, businesswoman, loner, and now… a new tango dancer.
Sue is a rare female star who gives women across the world an example of a woman who lives life on her own terms, way off the beaten path of modern life, with humor and a spark for life outside the comfort zone. Her native intelligence shines through on her show as Sue constructs everything she needs in the extremely remote location she lives in up in Northern Alaska. But Sue is also very sociable and curious about the world and people. You can see the hilarious parts of Sue here:
You can see the tough parts of Sue on display here:
So what’s the scoop? If you are like me, and never watched “Life Below Zero,” Sue lives in isolation 500 miles from Fairbanks and just a few miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at Kavik River Camp, an exploration camp she has created to enable people to explore nature in the area. You have to take a plane to get to Kavik. Sue built her own runway! (And many other things.) The show depicts the daily battles to survive in a harsh climate. Sue has become one of the favorites on the show (check out the passion of her fans’ reviews on this page) with many women and men fans who revere an independent woman. Fans of the show have followed Sue’s challenges with recovering from a bear attack (the bear had her head in its mouth but she escaped) and a snowmobiling accident.
Sue told Men’s Journal, “I had to sew my own head together, and my arm, and before my hips popped out, I went across the river, found the bear, shot him, called the trooper, and there I lay for 10 days.” According to the story, she was “finally taken to Fairbanks for treatment, and later to the Lower 48 for hip and spinal surgery.”
Clearly Sue is fierce. A survivor with a verve for life. But she is more than just an Alaskan survivalist. She also loves exploring cultures. She wanted to explore following in close-embrace tango and her own unique feminine side. Sue came to Buenos Aires with our Tango Adventure team to explore Argentine tango. She was very clear she did not want ballroom tango. She wanted the original: the energetic connection that is uniquely created in the tango embrace. For a woman who lives in isolation battling to survive in the most remote parts of Alaska, the choice to explore the culture of tango in Buenos Aires is….well, in a word…remarkable! All we do is hug people all day long. There are no words for this! Sue often talks about living outside the comfort zone. I love this quote she gave in an interview, “You’re never more alive than when you’re on the edge.”
What I’ve discovered about Sue is that she is very funny, caring and thoughtful–she is quite the woman. The more I get to know her, the more blown away I am. She shows us the possibility of transformation, for sure, and the many experiences we can live in one lifetime, as you can see in the photos below.
Many online say Sue has more balls than a man, but I would say she has ovaries. Why is courage associated with balls? Come on, let’s find some more body parts to associate with bravery, ladies!
Here are some snaps and one video clip of Sue dancing from Sue’s Tango Adventure with us . . .what’s truly remarkable is that Sue came to us a total beginner. After a two-week Tango Adventure she was dancing fluidly with our shining star taxi dancer Roberto. The amazing tango development was a credit to her innate capacity to learn and find balance in her body (she sure does take on physical challenges) and to the awesomeness of our Tango Adventure team, clearly!
Out dancing with Nico, one of our favorite taxi dancers, and TFG (Tango Fairygodmother) Wanda, both key member of our Tango Adventure team
Dancing with Gustavo, another key member of our Tango Adventure team, at Plaza Dorrego, one of the friendly milongas we take you to.
Testing out the new tango dress while shopping for tango shoes
Having merienda (afternoon snack) with Sasha, the head honcho 😉 and soul of the Tango Adventure and Solo Chica Tango Adventure Coordinator Julia who makes the magic happen
Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see the interview with Sue on why she felt drawn to Argentine tango. We talked about lots of great stuff, like living outside the comfort zone and drawing boundaries without being an asshole. Sue’s capacity to be direct and assertive while also being really nice kind of blew me away. Role model alert.
January 1, 2020: Night One of the Experiment at La Glorieta. Photo: fellow tanguera Geneviève Allard
It’s the first day of 2020. I decided to start this year with a bang of new year’s energy. I am beginning a new Challenge: 31 Days of Asking Men to Dance. A new decade merits a new experiment!
In truth, my idea was a recycle of an idea from last year, but reduce, reuse, recycle, right? In January 2019 I decided to do a research project after another conversation with a fellow tanguera about my frustration with going out to dance, and often spending much of the night or afternoon waiting for a cabeceo (the nod of the head a man uses when he asks a woman to dance). My plan was to go out dancing tango 31 nights in a row with the express intention of asking men to dance. My rule for myself was: if you go to a milonga or practica, you must ask at least one man to dance with a mirada (the look of desire used by a woman in her eyes to show she wants to dance), a cabeceo (a head nod usually used by men to invite) or verbally (which would be OK to do in more casual milongas but not so much in formal, elegant milongas).
No matter how I needed to challenge myself to go outside my comfort zone to be the initiator of the dance.
Well, we teach what we need to learn. It’s still not easy for me to ask a man to dance in Buenos Aires if he isn’t already a friend or someone I have danced with many times. The codes in tango still send a strong message that men invite, and women wait to be invited.
Deep down for me, and I suspect for many women, there is a feeling that we are more attractive if we are invited rather than actively inviting the men. It’s the same old Cinderella complex, waiting for a man to come, wake you from a passive slumber to validate you. In fact, many men seem to like the idea of women asking them to dance to take the constant pressure of initiation off them. But I’ve also heard from a man that he didn’t want women to ask him to dance because he felt that would be taking away the last clear domain of power that men had. Whatever.
I would have shared last year’s results with you but I lost the phone, so I lost the data recorded in audio messages each time I left the milonga. I can tell you last year I got plenty of yesses and nos. The yesses made the nos worth it because the dances that came along with the yesses were often quite good–and I truly don’t think I would have danced with those men if I hadn’t invited them. There is also a power in knowing I can be rejected and survive the no. In a way, that’s freedom.
So my dears, if at first you do not succeed then try try again. This year we start fresh. I’m going to attempt to do 31 whole nights. Let’s see. That’s an intense goal since I am also working mightily to complete a memoir that I started in 2012 (!!!!) but I’m thinking all this dancing will be good for my writing-brain power because we need a balance of mental and physical activity to stay creative.
So I am going to try the experiment this year and live-blog it as I go along on this post, adding a new entry with data and emotional observations each night after I go out.
Here we go…
Day 1: January 1, 2020
Milonga: La Glorieta, an outdoor gazebo in Belgrano where people gather to dance nightly.
Me and one of my targets! He said yes. 😉
Results: Spectacular. I asked 7 men to dance, verbally each time. All seven said yes. At least one was someone who I have danced with once before years ago, but I’m sure he thinks he is much higher level than me. Because he was standing alone looking rather glum I asked him anyway.
My language of choice for all the men was “Bailas?” (“Do you dance?”), “Quer bailar?” (“Do you want to dance?” or “Bailamos” (“Let’s dance.”) I used “Bailamos” only with someone I know socially. Using a verbal invitation works at La Glorieta and other more casual milongas. I don’t know if inviting verbally would work well at a formal milonga like Canning. I may have to lean more on a heavy mirada or cabeceo. We’ll see over the next 31 days.
My strategy was often to wait until one song had passed in the four-song tanda. Waiting gave me more confidence and made me feel less like I was attacking them. I realize it feels better to let go of this need to feel desired in my experiment because my stronger need is to dance and feel empowered. My mood was much better because I was asking the men and choosing who I wanted to dance with rather than standing around hoping someone I wanted to dance with would ask me. I felt like a bubblier version of myself than the passive me who stands around waiting.
I asked one man to dance whom I have often danced with. He seemed a bit taken aback that I was the one asking. At first I almost thought he wanted to play it hysterico (hot and cold) and decline my invitation because he was used to approaching me but then all was good and we danced a lovely tanda.
All of the other guys seemed quite fine with invitation. “Dale,” or “Dale si” is what most of them said.
There was one man that I tried to invite with my eyes using my mirada, who I thought met my eyes but then he walked past me. He seemed to have made eye contact with another woman standing behind me. That was OK because well, you win some and you lose some. Overall this experiment started off with winning way more than usual lately.
That was a wrap for night one!
Day 2: January 2, 2020
I was planning to go to De Querusa but with all the hubbub of the New Year and the grand start of this project I am feeling too tired. I need to rest! I’ll stay in tonight to watch Outlander. I’ll make up for it tomorrow by asking EXTRA men to dance.
The Friday afternoon practica Cheek to Cheek is not a traditional milonga where men and women sit on opposite sides of the dance floor but it’s definitely more of an elite milonga than La Glorieta so I was feeling nervous about taking my “31 Days of Asking Men to Dance” Challenge to Cheek to Cheek. La Glorieta is a “friendly milonga”–Cheek to Cheek not so much. The last time I went to Cheek to Cheek a few months ago there was poca gente (very few people) and they were all ridiculously high-level dancers. I danced with the organizer and I feared that it was a pity tanda because I had been sitting there in planchar mode for over an hour. Planchar is the Argentine verb meaning “to iron.” In tango language, to planchar means sitting for hours, frustrated, not dancing.
So how did it go? I entered the milonga and saw a familiar face of a sweet guy from La Plata. La Plata is about an hour south of Buenos Aires. The dancers from La Plata are often good (and passionate, they drive a long time to get to the milonga). I greeted him with a kiss on the cheek which is probably not what I would have done if it were not for the 31 Days of Asking Men to Dance Challenge. This whole challenge of asking men to dance is making me more outgoing and less timido in general. After I changed my shoes he invited me with a cabeceo, but I really believe that my being more friendly and warm with the kiss paved the way for the invitation. I can’t claim I invited him, but I do think I helped make the invitation happen by being friendlier than I often am. (Not because I don’t want to be friendly, but I can be kind of shy and inward! Especially if I am feeling insecure.)
My first dance. I didn’t ask him but I may have made it happen by being friendly.
What happened after? My friend Jorge showed up. Jorge is a taxi dancer in the Solo Chica Tango Adventure so he’s part of our team. If you come along on a Solo Chica Tango Adventure you might dance with him too. (You can read Jorge’s bio here.) I can’t claim to have gone out of my comfort zone to invite him either since we have danced many times, but I can say, I asked him “Bailas?” at exactly the same time he said to me, “Bailamos.” It seems like “Bailamos” (“Let’s dance”) is a much more normal thing to say to a friend and “Bailas?” (“Do you dance?”) makes more sense to say to someone new. I’m still working out this verbal invitation language since I have spent most of my tango career following the rules of showing my interest with a mirada (look of desire) and not words.
Jorge one of our taxi dancers for the Solo Chica Tango Adventure–and moi! It’s always nice to run into a friend at the milonga. He doesn’t count in the Challenge but his presence boosted my confidence.
After I am happy to say I invited two men! They both said yes. One was a Polish man living in Italy who seemed to be a beginnerish dancer. Very sweet. He seemed happy I invited him. The other was a wonderful dancer that I went on a date with once. We didn’t wind up dating. It can be kind of awkward to see someone that you don’t wind up dating at the milonga. I felt he ignored me for the last year when we saw each other at milongas. Maybe he thought I ignored him? Who knows? This time because I had my Challenge fueling me I forced myself to creep up behind him and tap him lightly on the shoulder. He turned his head around and said, “Quer bailar?” with a friendly smile. We danced a magical tanda. I missed dancing with him. We dance together so well.
I’m only on day three, which is technically day two. I am getting more and better tandas than I would have been dancing otherwise. Going into the milonga with the intention of asking at least one man to dance is definitely working. I’m feeling more present, less passive. No rejections so far, but I’m sure that will change when I ask more people. I have only asked 9 men so far! What’s going to happen at a traditional milonga when I ask a man? I don’t know.
I am quite pleased with the experiment so far. I am feeling less shy and more outgoing in general.
Day 4: January 4, 2020
Practica: La Maria, an afternoon practica
La Maria is an afternoon practica on Saturdays where I have been going to dance over the last month based on the recommendation from a tango friend who told me the level was better than the DNI practica, which I have had a love-hate relationship with for years. Overall I’ve had a good time at La Maria and have been happy with the switch in my Saturday afternoon tango routine but I’ve certainly faced frustrating moments of feeling ignored there too.
On day four I received my first nos at La Maria. Three nos to be exact, or 2.5, if you count the last guy who told me “No, not this tanda because it’s D’Arrienzo” (too fast) but we can do another tango tanda. I am not sure if that should be called a full no but he didn’t ask me to dance for the last one, and I wasn’t going to ask again because I felt that would be a little bit pathetic, so for the purposes of this study I will call his a no. (However I did chat with him about how and why we got into tango. I may have planted the seeds for a future tanda.)
I was glad about the first “no” because I didn’t want men to be saying yes to me out of obligation or pity. His no proved that a man could say no. Of course I knew that was true because I had gotten “no” many times in the past! I wasn’t surprised because this guy seemed to be one of the high-level dancers who barely danced at all–he only dances with a few chosen few. The second “no” came from a guy who appeared to be a foreigner. I was surprised he said no, because usually foreigners are happy to be asked–they don’t have automatic dance partners. He wound up standing a long time in a corner so maybe he also wasn’t in a dancing mood, who knows?
At first I felt energized and happy with the “nos,” because I knew this project really hadn’t gotten started until I got a “no.” There would be no reality to the challenge without “nos” because that would have meant I was only asking foreigners or men I already knew. In fact, I had asked total strangers but this time I asked high-level strangers. The “nos” felt good because I survived them, and then went on to ask other men to dance who said yes. I danced a milonga tanda with a Brazilian who ran a tango school in Porto Alegre, and a German man who had been dancing tango in Buenos Aires since the 80s. That’s really something. Tango was coming out of obscurity after the dictatorships in the 80s. I feel myself dancing better because I am dancing more. On average I have been dancing 7-10 tandas since I started this Challenge, compared to the 2-3 tandas per milonga I was dancing before. Going out with the intention of asking men to dance has definitely generated far more tandas. It’s also made me feel more in control of my destiny. I am more concerned with identifying men I want to dance with and scheming about how I will ask them rather than sitting in a chair, eyeing men, fruitfully or not, which had gotten awfully boring and depressing after a while.
I must admit after two “nos” I felt tired. I almost invited a man that I have danced with a couple times, but who is a bit inconsistent in his desire to dance with me, I didn’t have much left in the way of strength to take another no. Three “nos” may be the limit of what my ego can take.
Happily though I had four yesses, plus the three men who invited me without any work on my part.
I call Day Four a continued success.
Here’s a spontaneous little video I recorded sitting on a stoop on the street after leaving La Maria.
Day 5: Another rest day!
Wow, this asking men to dance thing is intense! I’m taking another rest day because I need a break, and because tomorrow morning I will get up early to go on a day trip to Tigre, a river community an hour outside of Buenos Aires. The excursion will include tango so I will be sure to ask a man to dance. Stay tuned for the pictures. These will be lovely and different: tango in nature is the best.
Day 6: Tango in Tigre
I wasn’t able to go to a milonga because I went to to this Tango in Tigre Day Trip to check it out as an option for Solo Chicas who come on our Tango Adventures. The day was marvellous: maravilloso! Beautiful people, home-made food by Hugo Satorre, a world-known bandoneonist, yoga, swimming, kayak, and a bit of tango to live music on the pier before we took the boat back to Tigre. Tigre is a small city with a river community just outside Buenos Aires. It’s the easiest place to get a nature fix on a day trip.
So did I ask any men to dance? Well, no, because the only man to ask was married and he was glued to the hip of his spouse so I didn’t want to rock the boat too hard. However, on the way back in the boat, Sole Viladrich, another woman who had come on the day trip, and I discovered that we had massive amounts in common. Sole just released her documentary “Esto No Es El Tango: El Abrazo Dissidente” all about women, queer people, trans people, and other rule-breakers challenging rigid notions of tango. I told her about my Challenge and how very happy I was to get my first NOs at La Maria on Day 4. In the end, this is all about building resilience and it wouldn’t be real if men only said yes. Of course men have the right to say no too! Anyone does.
We talked about the distinct challenge of asking men to dance in traditional milongas such as Cachirulo, which are run by a kind of ten commandments of tango. You can read more about the ultra-traditional Cachirulo in this New York Times piece “A Caricature of the Patriarchy: Argentine Feminists Remake Tango”. Sole said that she had seen a woman denunciado (denounced) in Cachirulo for asking men to dance. Wow. It will be a dare on a whole other level to break the codes in a traditional milonga. I know I will have to try it this month, and I’m scared! I might call Sole to come and film my attempts.
I asked one man to dance, a total stranger, and he said yes. No drama whatsoever.
Day 9: January 9, 2020
Milonga: De Querusa
I went out on a whim because I craved the embrace. I often feel I will sleep better if I dance tango. Better sleep was my motivation on Day 9. It worked. I went to bed more pleasurably tired than if I had been watching Netflix all night.
Officially both of my verbal invitations were refused by awkward foreign dancers. That would be two nos. However, from the moment I arrived I interacted in friendly, easy ways with men I have been dancing with recently, which resulted in three rather magical rapid-fire tandas that left me feeling like a sweaty, popular dancing queen.
I’m starting to feel like verbally asking men to dance is not hard. The sting of the no is not bothering me as much. However, it still holds true that I can only tolerate two nos. Any more than that starts to feel like a downer.
I’m also reaping the benefits of going out more often. It’s definitely true that it’s easier to get dances when you are a regular in the tango scene.
I simply feel happier in the milonga now because I feel less powerless. Even if I get a no, I feel like I have more power to decide who I want to dance with. Let’s see if that feeling of power continues.
Day 24: De Querusa and Canning
Well, we can see there is a large gap here between Days 9 and 24. In this entry I return to the same milonga I wrote about last time! I really must laugh at my ambition Day 1 of going out every night. What delusional New Year’s energy!
The truth is I have gone out to dance six times in the last two weeks but I didn’t focus on asking men to dance other than on Day 12 at Plaza Dorrego — and we will have a super-fun video for you about that later. The reason(s)? One, at many of the milongas I was with Sue Aikens, the fascinating bear-hunter turned tanguera (and star of the National Geographic show “Life Below Zero”) who joined us for a Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires so my attention was more on Sue. That said, at at least one time in one of those milongas I did invite a man to dance verbally, and he said yes. The other nights quite frankly I was tired. Asking men to dance requires energy on another level than going out to dance. First, I have to pick out a man to invite, then I need to screw up my courage to break gender codes and face the risk of rejection–well, it’s a lot. So I played it mellow on those nights respecting my energy.
Last night I went back to De Querusa, a moderately friendly milonga where I have some nice regular partners.
Invitations by me, and the way I did it: Two heavy miradas with a slight dash of an head nod (slightly cabeceo-like toward two men, somewhat regular partners, or at least men I had danced with before). Both resulted in dances. One verbal invitation to a French beginner when I was feeling bored and frustrated. He was the one I had never danced with before. I asked him “Bailas?” and he didn’t know what that meant, which resulted in an awkward exchange in English, and then a lovely dance. Those three were at De Querusa. Then at Canning, I used a delicate tap on the back and a head nod toward the floor with a man where I know for sure we enjoy dancing with each other–our musical sensitivities and embrace are very compatible. Resulting in another divine dance before calling it a night. The Challenge helped me to initiate the dance quickly because I knew I wanted to go to bed. Tapping him on the back was much better than sitting there passively waiting for him to invite me. We might not have danced because I was turning into a pumpkin fast.
This Challenge is an experiment in new-habit-formation as well as building courage and resilience. After a while the new habit of inviting men to dance becomes integrated and slightly less dramatic to practice. At the same time I expect and accept there will be plenty of milongas when I simply don’t feel the strength. I’m trying to not beat myself up when my more tired, shy nights happen. When I have energy, I invite!
On Day 24 it should be noted that I attended an intermediate tango class as a leader–for me what’s most interesting now is learning to lead. As a new leader, I return to the absorption and flow state of being a beginner. I met another woman who is learning to lead in the class. Zita from Melbourne and I had a lot of fun practicing together, and then I saw Zita out at De Querusa. I invited her to dance the last tanda, which we danced in a rather deliciously absurd way. There’s also a lot less pressure to be “good” at tango starting over in a new role. Beginner’s mind is the best. In many ways I think being a beginner follower in tango is the most fun when everything is new and intoxicating, and you can’t think for a second because your body, mind and soul need to completely focus to follow.
Day 25: January 25, 2020
Milongas: La Maria and La Carretta
At La Maria I asked two men to dance. I had already danced one tanda with the first man I asked–and he invited me. We were sitting next to each other chatting when I asked if he wanted to dance a second. He said he was thinking the same. So it wasn’t the biggest stretch but my invitation did strike the flame.
The second man was someone that I danced with many times in the past but we have not danced in about 9 months. He falls into a certain category in tango: a hurtful one. I think this phenomenon is familiar to many in tango. There’s someone you danced with for a long time, seemingly enjoyably, but for whatever reason that person doesn’t want to dance with you anymore so he or she ignores you. This is a cold side of tango that I really do not enjoy.
Well, I was sitting there bored, not dancing, and neither was he, so I decided to ask him to dance because of the Challenge. I had already been acting more friendly to him in general and kissed him on the cheek when I arrived. I got close to him at the bar and asked “Queres bailar?” He either didn’t understand me or possibly he needed to be the one to ask “Queres bailar?” After a bit of chit-chat he asked me the same thing back. Either he wasn’t used to a woman approaching him, he didn’t understand me, or he had a macho need to invite. I suspect it was the latter.
Did he want to dance with me or was he saying yes out of obligation? This is a question that women have asked me since I started the Challenge. A lot of women have a horror about dancing with someone who doesn’t really want to dance with them. Well, the answer is yes, mostly I feel the men I invite are happy to dance with me when I ask. With this particular guy… I didn’t feel his heart and soul in the dance, but I would say that this was an exception. He is also a mansplainer–I know that from taking a tango class with him. So I don’t think he’s my ideal dance parter anyway because he strikes me as a bit machista. I like the more sensitive, open-minded, kind and friendly men. But that’s OK. We can do a tanda together when I don’t have anyone else to dance with. Ha!
I went on to La Carreta with Zita after dinner. It was my first time at La Carretta: a Saturday milonga that starts at midnight and goes until 5 am! Not really my speed since my free days are dedicated to finishing my upcoming book right now. My number one priority is writing at the moment. I asked two men who were sitting next to me on the couch. The man on the right said no. He was dressed in elegant wide-legged dark pants and a white shirt seemed to be from an Asian country–not sure which, not Asian-American or Asian-Australian–and he seemed disoriented that I invited him. It’s possible that he didn’t understand either “Queres bailar?” or “Do you want to dance?” Or I simply blew his mind as a stranger asking him to dance. I didn’t mind the rejection so much because I was tired and wanted to go home. The second was an Argentine sitting to my left, also elegantly dressed–a serious tanguero. I asked on the third song of the tanda, back to my strategy of not wanting to push too much. He said “dale.” (OK.) We danced a lovely two songs, albeit open embrace with distance between us. He probably opened up the embrace because I was really sweaty. I didn’t go home between the two milongas. Yesterday was extremely hot and humid in Buenos Aires. I left happy to go to bed at 1:15 am with many embraces from the day in my body that eased me off to sleep.
Want to come away to Buenos Aires and learn how to invite men to dance, or to attract invitations to dance? Come away with Sasha’s Tango Adventure program for a 7-Day community-based, transformative dance immersion vacation in Buenos Aires and you will learn that and way more. Solo Chica means this program is designed to make it easy for you to come as a woman alone. Solo Chico Adventures for men are available. We also offer Couple Adventures. Here’s the link to find out more.
Just in time for the holidays…which in the U.S. are quite the kid-focused months, let’s talk about motherhood (or parenthood) ambivalence. Do you want to have children? Are you thinking about having kids? These questions can take on a massive life of their own in our thirties.
This topic of motherhood ambivalence is close to my heart because I spent so many years in deep consideration about whether I wanted to be a mother enough to make it happen if I didn’t meet a partner in time to be a “biological mother.” In my work with my mostly women coaching clients since 2013, the question of motherhood has come up a number of times. I have so much compassion for women who are wondering, “What’s going to happen? Is this going to happen?” between the ages of 35 and 40 when the pressure to find a partner before the fertility clock runs out seriously rears its head. I often think of this period of time as a passageway of the soul in a woman’s life.
That’s why I was delighted to be invited as a guest on Sarah Dobson’s podcast Maybe Someday. Maybe Someday is about ambivalence: specifically ambivalence about the question of motherhood. Sarah is right when she says we have few spaces in our culture to delve into the murky mix of feelings that many of us feel about being parents. Or relationship for that matter. I love that she has created this space and invited me to be part of it with her.
We don’t often hear that our ambivalence can be a gift, and that’s one thing I am glad we talk about in the podcast. If we are not living on automatic pilot to cross off the societally mandated checklist of “settling down” (marriage, home ownership, kids) we get the opportunity to sort through our feelings to discover what matters most to us. For example, as I share in the podcast, buying a home was never really a major priority for me. Maybe I will want to buy a home in the future, but it wasn’t something that I had to do in my thirties. If we can find the courage to sort through our mess of feelings, we can take steps toward the things our soul really wants.
Here are some of the things we talked about:
–how I dealt with the pressure of the biological clock–and how that tied into being quirkyalone (and not wanting to settle)
–that fear that you won’t know the true meaning of love if you don’t become a mother, or that being a mother is the pinnacle of womanhood, etc. All that stuff!
–the wistfulness of looking at friends’ family photos on Instagram
–how confronting our fertility expiration dates affects our experience of dating
–the restlessness that may come up for women at 35 if they haven’t fulfilled the societal mandates of getting married and having children–the feeling that something has to change
–how climate change put the nail in the coffin of my ambivalence about motherhood
–on a personal note, the awkward conversations that come up on a first date when you’re the queen of quirkyalones (ha, yes, it can be awkward)
If you are in the midst of living this question, I highly recommend you give this one a listen. Thanks to Sarah for the opportunity to share, and here’s to honoring our ambivalences and talking through the nuances.
Yesterday my inbox (all the inboxes, email and social media) exploded with messages with people sending me this CNN story about Emma Watson’s interview in Voguewhere she says she prefers “self-partnered” to “single.” The interview will be published November 8 as she approaches her 30th birthday with all the pressures that milestone brings on.
All the messages said the interview reminded them of my work!
Is actress and activist Emma Watson a quirkyalone? She certainly sounds like one. I think we can very safely add her to the list. I’ll be doing an updated Quirkyalone soon so we’ll include Emma in the new celebrity directory.
Being self-partnered calls to mind the value of becoming a true partner to yourself when you marry yourself too so the language works with both concepts. In a self-marriage ceremony you write vows to yourself about how you will love and accept yourself, and have your own back.
Taking it a step further with Emma’s twist on the language, after you marry yourself you can declare yourself self-partnered. Really, doesn’t this make sense? Who would not want to be a partner to yourself? Even if you have a wonderful life partner wouldn’t it be nice to partner with yourself too?
If you’re not self-partnered doesn’t it sound like you are at war with yourself? As I think of it more, when I coach people I am helping them become self-partnered: for yourself rather than against yourself. That’s the bottom line.
Being quirkyalone certainly doesn’t mean that you only want to be alone, or don’t need love and companionship. It means you have standards and you prefer to be alone rather than settle. I don’t think self-partnered means that either. None of us can really go it alone in life, and many of us quirkyalone types want a deep intimate partnership as well as closer friendships and family relationships.
Being quirkyalone is about living your life fully with a partner or not. Not shying away from opportunities because you don’t have a significant other to share them with, and knowing that you are worthy and complete in a relationship or not. I imagine being self-partnered would be just the same. You’d be better prepared to partner with others without hanging on them for needs they can’t ultimately fulfill for you, and that only you can do for yourself. You’ll be better able to date and connect with others in a healthy way — with love!
Of course this is an ideal. We quirkyalones are human too, and we also screw ourselves up with self-doubt, get terribly lonely at times, and sometimes aren’t sure at all what to make of the insane dating jungle out there, but we just can’t fake it. We always want to come back to these kinds of ideals even if it’s not easy.
Self-partnered, or quirkyalone, or quirkytogether. Welcome Emma, we think you are part of our tribe.
Have you ever dreamed of getting away from everyone you know and going on an adventure where you get to try on new sides of yourself and learn something new? The magic happens outside of the comfort zone. First you may need some support to step out of your comfort zone.
Solo Chica is designed to help you do just that–get on a plane, go somewhere new, and learn something new in a safe, contained way because you have our curated Itinerary and supportive program to guide you. You won’t be figuring this all out on your own.
We are super excited to officially launching the Solo Chica Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires with the stories of three women (American and British) who are soon to embark on an international growth adventure with our team.
We chose Kelly as our Grand Prize winner because she wants to help us show that tango can be for every body type, and racial/ethnic background. We think that message is so important.
We chose Cathy because she told us she wants to reimagine womanhood with a partner or not, and to heal regrets about not being a mother. And she is a priest! We needed to have her on board.
We chose Justyn because she is a two-time cancer survivor who uses all her life experiences and learnings to inspire others to use their own powers to heal themselves through the Brave Souls Project.
Two are total beginners. One is an advanced beginner. All three women are taking a leap outside their comfort zones to learn a dance in a city where they know no one–until now. Here are some of the people they are about to meet.
So who are these brave Solo Chicas?
Here are their stories.
Kelly Macias, Washington, DC, Grand Prize Winner of a coaching session with Sasha and a Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (value $500)
In Kelly’s words: “I’m a writer and a consultant and my consulting practice is focused on supporting organizations to increase their racial and gender equity so that they can do social justice work in the world. I would describe myself as a dreamer—I’m much more interested in possibilities, creating and building new things and developing what could be than by feeling limited by what actually is.”
Kelly’s Tango: “I would say that I’m an advanced beginner. I’ve been having a love affair with tango since 2004 but it is currently an unrequited love because I’ve been inconsistent. I’ve taken group lessons, privates, workshops over the last 15 years but sporadically. I enjoy salsa, bachata, merengue and hip hop. If money were not an issue, I’d have given up my work long ago and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue my dream of being a tango star!”
Why should we choose you for the launch contest to receive this extra free coaching support? “I’ve spent the last few years feeling very disconnected from my sexuality, sensuality and feminine energy, as a whole. I would the opportunity to get support in exploring it.
I would be an enthusiastic ambassador for the program and could imagine partnering with Sola Chica in some way to promote diversity (racial/ethnic, body type, career, etc). within the program. I’m already sold on what a great and transformative experience this could be and I’d want to spread the word so that folks know that tango really is for everybody and every body type!“
What would it mean for you to rediscover the Tango Goddess in you through the photo shoot? “Like many working women in their forties, I’ve been busy focusing on my career for the last several years. The stress of trying to be successful in a hectic society centered around class and patriarchy and white supremacy has taken its toll. I’m no longer as carefree or vulnerable as I used to be.
Add technology and social media to the mix, and it has meant that I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen than tending to my intimate relationships. I want to connect back to my vulnerability and sensuality and joy and think that the Tango Goddess photo shoot is a way to liberate myself from all that has been weighing me down.”
What else would you like to discover through this experience? “I want to have multiple tangasms and discover pleasure, intimacy, and connection through my lived experiences!”
Cathy Mark, London UK, winner of a coaching session with Sasha
Tell us more about you; “I am a menopausal priest on a journey of healing and rediscovery as I work towards accepting that I may never find ‘the one’ to settle down with and I will now never have biological children of my own. I want to rediscover love, light and laughter in a self-affirming way.”
Describe your tango experience: “Total beginner.”
What else would you like to discover through this experience: “Learn to love myself again. Learn to forgive myself. Learn to laugh again.”
Cathy will be coming from the UK. She loves traveling and her favorite destination to date is Sri Lanka. She also recently visited Finland and Morocco.
Cathy is coming in 2020. As we develop the Solo Chica program, we may develop an email list that lets people connect with other Solo Chicas who want to adventure together. We are excited to welcome Cathy and see how her adventure unfolds!
Justyn Livingston, Bend, Oregon, Winner of a coaching session with Sasha
Tell us about you: “I am an artist, painter, former professional ice-skater, and meditation teacher/coach. I am thriving after two cancer diagnoses, and have been doing deep inner work with Dr Joe Dispenza. It is time for me to ‘take it off the mat’ and live it. Tango in Paradise and Solo Chica seem like a great place to start. ;-)”
If you are chosen as a winner in the Launch Contest and you receive a free 1-hour coaching session with Sasha, what would you like to focus on? “Furthering my ‘feminine mojo’ (we need a new word! verve?). I have been single for a long time, and would like to shift my energy and draw a fitting partner in dance and in life. I want to integrate what many beautiful European women have and exude, which is a confident sensuality and style in all ages.”
“Our culture considers women my age to be invisible. It’s time to change that. Surgeries and cancer treatments have been difficult gifts and I intend to live beyond those perceived limitations.”
Why tango?: “I spent a few years in Eugene and Corvallis dancing Cuban Salsa with a little bit of DanzSon, and loved it. In my earlier years I studied ballet, flamenco, modern dance and jazz. I’ve taken one tango workshop and found it compelling on many levels. Specifically, the energetic lead that occurs when two people are tuned in to each other and in the present moment.”
Helping others: Justyn’s experiences on cancer’s healing path led her to create The Brave Souls Project, where she supports others on their healing journeys. BSP helps people transform their health by rewiring their responses to thoughts and emotions from fear and anxiety into healing and opportunity. She helps others in group and one-on-one sessions, using the power of guided meditation, epigenetics and neuroscience to help people shift their outlook.
Through her experience in Solo Chica, Justyn wants to “inspire other women to claim their lives, whole-heartedly. If not now, then when?”
PS Everyone who comes on a Solo Chica Tango Adventure gets a Tango Fairygodmother or father to accompany them in the milongas to dance, meet people, and discover the three transformational elements in the Solo Chica Tango program: the look, the embrace, and the walk. Justyn is so excited about meeting her Tango Fairygodfather Kevin she shouted it out on Instagram.
Have you thought about traveling alone for your next vacation, but you are afraid that solo travel could be a bit lonely? Not with Solo Chica! Today I am excited to announce our exciting new thing–designed to make it easy for you to get on a plane for an adventure on your own. Easy. Done. Itinerary in hand.
Solo Chica is all about helping women 35+ travel alone with carefully curated Itineraries for transformative learning experiences. With Solo Chica, you can travel to off-the-beaten-path worlds in a local culture without having to figure this all out alone. You’ll be immediately connected with local people when you land who will guide you on a course of personal transformation–through a dance, a photo shoot, or who knows what…Solo Chica-style!
Women who are under 35 can be Solo Chicas too–so can men! We designed Solo Chica for 35+ solo travelers in mind because we want to support women to travel alone. Younger women and men have more built-in support for traveling alone through hostels.
Doesn’t it seem more “normal” for younger people to travel solo? After a certain age, the message gets drummed into us that we are support to travel with a partner, family, or friends. At Solo Chica, we support you to travel solo or with whoever you want. There is something sublime about solo travel. Solo travel stretches you, showing you new parts of yourself as you meet more people and take risks in a place where no one knows you.
Give us your week of vacation. Solo Chica will turn your trip into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What’s a Solo Chica™ Adventure?
Solo Chica is a new kind of solo travel adventure designed by Quirkyalone author and life coach Sasha Cagen (moi!) to make it easy for you to get on the plane for a curated 7-day transformative vacation. Easy. Done. Itinerary in hand.
Solo Chica is designed for busy women who want adventure. With every Solo Chica Adventure, you get an Itinerary that has been created by local insiders to give you a travel experience that’s fulfilling, easy, authentic, and safe.
Every Solo Chica Itinerary includes contacts for the people to guide you on a transformative experience.
Because Solo Chica not a group tour, you will have the freedom to come when you want and to move according to your own choices and desires. You’ll be open for serendipity when you travel while also having structure and support. (Goodbye annoying prepackaged tours that schedule every moment tiring you out.)
The future is Solo Chica
Interest in female solo travel is skyrocketing. Not only aremore people single today than ever more married and partnered women want to go on soul-fulfilling trips on their own. My coaching clients want to talk about how to travel solo without feeling lonely. I’ve also heard from married women, I want to go on a Solo Chica Adventure! You can!
Hostelworld, an online hostel-booking platform released a 2018 study showing that bookings by solo female travelers increased by 45 percent from 2015 to 2017, compared with a 40 percent increase for men.
However, there are still a lot of questions and frustrations for older solo female travelers:
Where to stay if you want to meet people but don’t want to stay at a twentysomething party hostel?
How do you handle going out alone at night?
Where to go so you are not surrounded by couples and families, talking to no one, and feeling terribly lonely? (Been there, done that!)
What to do if you are concerned about safety or loneliness but you are not a group tour person?
Solo Chica was created as one answer to these questions.
You want to get off the tourist bus and deep into the culture wherever you go.
You like to travel with purpose and meet new people.
You want to get back in your body and reconnect with the parts of you that are fun, sensual and exude joie de vivre.
But you work a lot … You don’t have time to plan.
We have something for you!
Why are we focused on the chicas?
We call it Solo Chica because our focus is empowering women to travel alone for transformative learning experiences.
We are open to the cool, self-aware men too!
Solo Chica fits in with the overall mission here at sashacagen.com. Much of my work with Quirkyalone, my life coaching work, and online courses have been about helping you to reduce your fear being single so that you can hold out for the kind of relationship you really want. When you aren’t afraid of being alone, you won’t settle.
Traveling alone is part of this equation. You want to feel free to live your dreams whether you are single or in partnership.
If not now, when?
Don’ t waste your life hiding in comfort zones. Come on a Solo Chica Adventure!
Our First Solo Chica Itinerary is the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. Watch this video to see the Adventure that awaits Solo Chicas in Buenos Aires…
Every Solo Chica Itinerary will get you out of your head and back into your body.
Why the body focus? Because the tech industry got us good. We are all hopelessly addicted to our screens and thinking way too much! We need to reconnect with our flesh.
In the social media era, tango is the perfect first Solo Chica Adventure. Tango allows us to be in the present moment with another person we can see, touch, feel, and enjoy connecting with. Tango also helps us to reconnect with our masculinity, femininity, sensuality and confidence.
Solo Chica is not only a vacation. It’s a personal growth adventure designed to help you:
Reconnect to your sensuality.Rediscover parts of you that you that have been lost or suppressed when you reconnect your sensual self through tango.
Become more physically confident in ways you can draw on for dating, flirting, and work/leadership whether you are a woman or a man. For women, hello pussywalking!
Discover what tango has to teach you about yourself, life, and relationships…with a high probability of tangasms! Every person on our carefully curated Solo Chica Buenos Aires team was chosen for their warmth, excellence, and their ability to show you the tangasmic path of tango.
As we were developing Solo Chica, we ran a contest earlier this year asking the women and men who told us they wanted to come on a Tango Adventure why we should give them extra support in a free coaching session and with a free Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (one of the amazing things you can do as part of your Solo Chica Adventure as insider pricing.)
Later this week we will announce the winners of the Solo Chica Launch Contest. They are all brave, inspiring women who will soon arrive in Buenos Aires for their curated Solo Chica Adventures.
These ladies (representing four countries, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and the U.S.) are showing us the international symbol for pussywalking after attending a pussywalking workshop with Sasha in Buenos Aires.
The next Pussywalking Workshops will be held October 18-20 and November 15-17 at the Tango in Paradise weekends just outside of Buenos Aires — only for those doing the Solo Chica Tango Adventure! Want to come learn pussywalking with me in person? That’s the way in 2019!
Don’t know about pussywalking yet? You have to check out the videos and sign up for the special pussywalking newsletter for further instructions!
I was chatting with one of my best friends on the phone the other night when I asked her if she had seen the Brene Brown special “The Call to Courage” on Netflix.
She said, “Yeah,” but she said yeah with a kind of smirk that I could discern on the phone.
“It’s kind of obligatory for women of our demographic,” she said.
Ha. That demographic would be San Francisco, progressive, emotionally aware, 40s-50s.
We talked about the special, which I appreciated. Brene Brown’s work naming the power of vulnerability and its importance for love, happiness, and connection has been life-changing for me as it has been for many, many people. But there was one aspect of the talk that didn’t sit exactly right.
I loved Brene Brown’s storytelling about how incredibly challenging it can be to open up and talk about your feelings in an intimate relationship, even and especially for her (and for me I would add too!). Being vulnerable is not easy! But when she was telling stories from her life I had the feeling she was assuming that everyone in the audience was married, or at least, had a long-term partner. She was careful to use a non-parenting example after using a parenting example in her talk, but I had the feeling she wasn’t addressing the high percentage of people who are out there struggling to find and maintain a relationship or who are content being single.
There are particular ways that shame and challenges around vulnerability show up for those of us who are dating, and have been single for longer than we want to be. This is just one of the reasons I was so glad Bay Area therapist Laura Parker reached out to interview me as part of her groundbreaking series Transforming Loneliness.
Laura definitely groks “quirkyalone” (probably because she is one!). We could focus on shame and vulnerability from that perspective. We talked about how we can move from “single shame” to owning our stories as discerning quirkyalones. Why? So we can stop all those self-critical thoughts in our heads–and be more peaceful within ourselves and open to more love and connection.
For example, in our conversation, we talk about with shameful thoughts and questions like, “Is it my fault that I’m still single? I’m the one common denominator!” Or “Am I actually unlovable?”
By now I have enough experience as a life coach, writer and human being to know that people in long relationships also struggle with questions about whether they are lovable, but these questions really do hit hard if you are single for a lot longer than you want to be. I’ve worked through those issues myself–they will be on full display in my memoir (working title Wet). I often talk with clients who carry around the feeling that it’s their fault they are still single.
Loneliness, in my view, gets very tangled up with shame. We feel ashamed of feeling lonely and needing or wanting more connection than we have. We might even feel ashamed of having needs for love or companionship that have not been met. Or we might feel ashamed that our life stories don’t fit the “norm” of how adulthood is supposed to happen with certain milestones by certain ages.
According to this San Diego-based psychological study, 75% of Americans struggle with loneliness, even if they have a partner and a network of friends. These researchers found wisdom, compassion and empathy help people to feel more connected to humanity and the cosmos. Interacting with others who share values and interests can be helpful too.
Laura wants to help us to change the way we view loneliness so that instead of feeling ashamed of our loneliness as a personal failing we see it as a message to be attended to. I hope this conversation can give you more wisdom to look at your own feelings of loneliness when they come up. As Laura helped us see there are lots of ways to look at a dating history that has been mostly single. There might be something right with you if you don’t settle for a mediocre or unhealthy relationship.
In this video, you will hear us talk about:
What we mean when we say “single shame.” It’s that feeling that might overcome you when your date asks how long it’s been since your last relationship. It’s been years, and you don’t know what to say
What it means to “own your story” so someone can get to know you. If we don’t love and accept our own story enough to share it will be difficult for anyone to get to know you.
This brilliant corrective to single shame. When you are caught in a loop of self-judgment about still being single, sometimes the best thing to do is stop judging yourself and accept the mystery of life.
What I think about the idea that “you have to love yourself to love someone else.”
How relationships are mirrors and are co-created between two people.
How my ideas about relationships have evolved since publishing Quirkyalone in 2004
The memoir I’m working on now Wet is a follow-up to Quirkyalone. The new book goes into my own single shame story of how healing the effects of trauma helped me to open up more deeply than ever before in an important romantic relationship
Touch starvation when feeling lonely–and how tango or any kind of dance with contact can be an antidote
So go back to the top of this blog post and watch this video because it’s truly special (it starts off slow but it’s really a gem if you identify with being quirkyalone). Then, want to read or hear more about working with your loneliness and healing single shame?
Laura interviewed more than a dozen healers and thinkers on the topic of transforming loneliness from many spiritual perspectives. These videos are very nourishing. I recommend you check them out on her YouTube channel.
I’ve been talking about single shame with other authors, coaches and therapists for a while now.
This is tough stuff and you don’t need to do it on your own. Sometimes the best way to work through shame is to work with someone who can be your compassionate witness and observer to help you work through these feelings. Simply acknowledging and talking about shame often lessens those feelings considerably. Get one–on-one-help with working through single shame to own your story and open up for more love and connection. You can find a therapist in your area and ask him or her if she is sensitive to these types of issues or check out my coaching page and request a consult to explore coaching with me.
Last month was one of the more bizarre periods of my life. When I married myself five years ago it was an entirely private ritual that only two friends attended. Marrying myself had nothing to do with being single. Marrying myself was about a deep process of self-love and -acceptance. Really marrying myself was part of a healing process.
After TeleNoche aired an interview with me about self-marriage a month ago the Argentine (and Latin American) press got interested–as far away as Marie Claire Mexico.
I did three TV interviews, two radio, and two for the press, all in Spanish! Whoah!
Suddenly everyone knew me as “the first woman in Argentina who married herself.” People I interact with daily on my block (at the cafe, gym, kiosco, and health food store) congratulated me.
Weeks later my body pump teacher at the gym is still teasing me every time I slow down during the class. “Sasha, is marriage not treating you well?”
The latest surreal conversation on my block was with the Venelezuan at the local dietetica (health food shop) who came out from behind the counter when I was shopping to ask if was me. “Are you the woman who married herself?” I was there to buy almond milk and suddenly I was talking to him about what happens when women make vows to themselves.
If the people in my neighborhood are any indication, self-marriage had captured the attention of Argentina. Or Latin America. I didn’t even know it was possible anymore to achieve such media penetration now with so many different outlets. A woman in my weekly writing group told me she heard people talking about self-marriage everywhere from Twitter to Clarin to La Nación, Argentina’s leading conservative paper where a man wrote this little essay mocking self-marriage. He ended this with this typically Argentine poetic ending, “I point out that there is no love for oneself, above all, because there is no love for oneself without love for the other. and vice versa.”
Right. Exactly. That’s what I have been saying. We are in agreement buddy. My self-marriage was a private act. I never posted about marrying myself when I took that leap back in 2014 but I got a lot of benefit from marrying myself so when media wants to talk to me about it I oblige. My self-marriage was all about building my capacity to love myself–and others too. Then people get angry that women want to love themselves! “You’re such a narcissist.” “How sad you couldn’t find anyone to marry.” “Society is falling apart, etc.”
Maybe these people haven’t noticed that women have a tendency to give away so much of themselves in relationship (or in the pursuit of relationship) there is not enough left for themselves. When you love yourself you have more love to give. You’ll have better relationships! Why is making vows to love and care for yourself narcissistic? On the other hand, the Marie Claire Mexico got it just right in their writeup, pointing out that you can be in a relationship and marry yourself too.
How this “First Woman to Marry Herself in Argentina” madness started
This Latin American wave of self-marriage publicity started three weeks ago when Jason Mayne, a young reporter from TeleNoche was researching self-marriage because he was going to LA to do a story and wanted to do more. He discovered in a news story that I married myself here in 2014 in Buenos Aires’ Japanese Garden. He emailed me and two days later we taped an interview about self-marriage in the Japanese Garden, just where I had married myself with two friends in a very private, tiny ceremony five years before, witnessed by two close friends: one Colombian, one Estonian, both fellow tangueras.
I didn’t tell anyone on social media about my self-marriage when it happened. No one cared for five years. Where were all those self-wedding presents? Hahahahah evil laugh. After TeleNoche, all of a sudden all Argentine media wanted to talk to me.
In the last two weeks I have done three television interviews, two radio interviews, and one print interview (Infobae) for one of the biggest new sources. One Argentine friend emailed to say, “You’re busier than the president!” In fact, I lost myself in all the TV interviews. Neglecting my self-care meant that I needed to come back to the vows of my self-marriage to put my my health ahead of my work! I found the whole experience to be both scary (what do these people in Argentina think of me now? I must admit I do think about what people think of me) and extremely confidence-building. I had no idea I could do television interviews in Spanish. When I listened to this fifteen-minute radio interview with a station in Mendoza, I was in shock. I sounded like a porteña (a Buenos Aires person)!
Self-marriage does not equal “sologamia.” Please stop using that horrible word!
All the while I have been continually clearing up misconceptions. The media loves using “sologamia” in headlines and asking me how I am living the word “sologamia.” I don’t even know what that word means, and I never used the word to describe self-marriage, but let’s make it clear. The word “sologamia” clearly creates an impression in people’s mind that marrying yourself means you are committing to be alone. That might be the case for some women or men who marry themselves, but that has never been the case for me or even one of the women I have talked to who have married themselves. Self-marriage is a ritual that involves making vows to yourself, and it’s usually a ritual of self-love and self-acceptance.
I am currently single and want to be in a relationship. But that doesn’t mean I would divorce myself. This self-marriage is forever.
Would you marry yourself? Pollo, the host of Con Amigos Asi, would!
So with all of that, I present you the transcript from this truly hilarious segment of “Con Amigos Asi” where the first woman who married herself in Argentina explained how and why it’s done.
This interview was truly like nothing you have seen on American (or probably European) TV. It was like hanging out with a group of friends at an asado (BBQ). My friend Sharon said it was like an asado with great vibes.
I surprised the twentysomethings on the show because they assumed marrying myself meant I closed the door on marriage. No. There are no closed doors. These are two distinct things.
I explained that as I got older it becomes clear that the path of self-love is very important but it’s not recognized in society.
They were very open to listening as well as joking around.
We did some really hilarious spontaneous mini-coaching sessions on their contradictory feelings about relationships. “Sometimes I’m happy, Sometimes I cry. I’m confused Sasha.”
Also, one more thing: When I talked about this show with my Colombian friend (who also married herself and cares deeply that people get the deeper meaning of self-marriage) she worried people would get the wrong idea and think that marrying yourself is kind of like that joke on Seinfeld, when Jerry meets a woman played by Janeane Garafolo and says, “I found my soul mate, this woman is incredible, she is just like me!” That was a funny joke but no, that’s not what self-marriage is about! Self-marriage is about self-acceptance, not marrying your doppelganger.
Also facial treatments are great self-care but they are probably not the deepest expression of self-love. (During one of the spontaneous mini-coaching sessions on the show one of the women said she would express love for herself with facial treatments.)
But I will trust that you get that these are jokes.
Self-marriage is profound and funny, like the best things in life.
An asado (bbq) with really good vibes – watch it here with a transation
Note: We have an English translated transcript of this video below. For your best watching experience, you can click through to watch on YouTube and scroll down to read the transcript as you watch.
Sasha Cagen: The Woman who Married Herself, interview on “Con Amigos Asi” on the Argentine cable TV channel KZO
Pollo: I don’t have it clear.
Juan: What? What? Wait, wait.
Pollo: And now, the only woman who married herself… well, I do not know if she is the only one, but she is the only one in the program today. She married herself… she married herself!
Pablo: And she is not unfaithful with herself. I cannot believe it!
Pollo: She married herself and imagine how much less mess you have to go through. She has no problem living together with a partner, they do not fight over going to their parents´ houses.
Jani: For me, she was a visionary.
Pollo: This starts here and never ends!
Pablo: She separates from her husband and keeps everything!
Pollo Exactly, there is no contract to pronounce it…
Juan: If she doesn´t cook, nobody else will.
Yani: Phew! She should have been when the lawyer was here.
Pollo: Wait! What?
Juan: Wait and… Can I ask you a question?
Pollo: Yes, in fact you can ask her but I can help you.
Juan: Would you marry Pollo Alvarez?
Pollo: Yes, I would marry myself.
Pollo: I consider myself a good candidate.
Pablo: Would you marry Pablito Giménez?
Pablo: Yes, bolúdo (Argentine Spanish word to call someone an asshole in a friendly way). Yes. If I don´t love myself, who else will?
Juan: I won´t marry marry Juan. No way.
Pablo: That is true.
Yani: We all know that. Luckily it´s crystal clear.
Juan: You believe in my a lot, eh!
Pollo: I… Yes. The truth is that If I think about it, yes, yes, I would marry myself, yes.
Joshi: For me, the ideal partner.
Pollo: With whom?
Pollo: With yourself?
Joshi: Yes (nodding her head)
Pollo: Well, now I speak with her. Let’s welcome the dearest Sasha Cagen! Welcome, please come forward. Sasha Cagen (pronounced in English)? In English is it Cagen?
Joshi: (pronouncing her surname correctly): Cagen!
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Pollo: Welcome! Come in, please!
[A lot of back and forth about how to pronounce “Cagen” in English and Spanish.]
Pollo: Really, because obviously, surely, to do what you did, has to do with a process and with something that you believe in, but for outsiders, perhaps the most orthodox ones, you got our attention. So tell us, what is it all about?
Sasha: Well, yes, it’s usually not that someone wakes up one day and decides to marry herself or himself. Self-marriage is usually part of a period of introspection. I think it’s something people who are working on these things to love themselves enter into this process of self-marriage. It is something you can do for recognition in your life, as an adult. Because we do not have many rituals for adults. We have marriage and, I do not know what else, a birthday, but it is not something very…
Yani: Fatherhood. Motherhood, too.
Sasha: Yes, and well you can even marry yourself if you are already married. I am a life coach and I have helped women who are married to marry themselves. Because… especially women have a tendency to get lost in the relationship with others. Whether you are single or you are with someone, self-marriage can be a ritual to make a commitment to yourself. It is very personal and it is very creative because we do not have magazines that tell you what to do when you marry yourself. That’s why it is very free.
Pollo: Now I ask you, I understand what you are saying to me, that to marry yourself is creative and that it is part of the process but what is the difference between marrying oneself and not marrying oneself. Because in general I do not understand.
Joshu: The change?
Yani: The difference?
Pollo: What is the difference? Forgive my ignorance.
Yani: Single or married with yourself–isn’t that the same?
Sasha: It’s a process, a ritual …it´s something that you want….
Yani: Ah! It´s a ritual.
Sasha: I believe people have to be….
Joshu: Something symbolic maybe….
Sasha: People want something to do for that ritual of self-love. It’s symbolic and for me it was something that happened some months before my 40th birthday, because I felt a lot of pressure and unhappy because I had not found a man to marry. I was also doing therapy and thinking about how to love myself after working through many internal things. And it was weird, of course, it was strange.
That’s why for me, to marry myself here in Argentina was so much more free. I was far from my family, my normal friends … [Laughter] I have also my not-so-normal friends … open-minded friends I met in tango and they supported me. My Colombian friend, she got married to herself too. And she was present in my day. [Note: It should be said I have plenty of open-minded friends in California too!]
Pollo: Did she marry herself?
Sasha: Yes, she was present and….
Joshu: And did she know about this because of you?
Yani: No, no she married herself.
Joshu: Yes, yes, but did she get to know about it from you … I think this self-marriage is a beautiful idea, did she hear it for the first time from you?
Sasha: No. It was ten years ago, when I published this book [holding the Quirkyalone book in her hand]. I interviewed two women in California who married themselves. When I was 30, for me it was also like, why do you need to do this? I also was judgmental but I also felt interested in it. But it was also like … hmm … good for you, but it’s not for me. After time as I got older I realized that it is so very important to love yourself. To learn to love yourself really is a very important path in life. And we don’t value this so much because we want to get married, because society gives importance to marriages. So it is a ritual of self-love…
Pollo: It´s okay. It´s right what she is saying.
Joshu: But Sasha, do you feel that marrying yourself shows even more self-love than not marrying oneself … no? Because one can have self-love without marrying oneself, I just say.
Sasha: Yes, totally. Yes, and it’s not necessary need to marry yourself.
Joshu: But you felt even greater self-love when you married yourself?
Sasha: Sorry? Oh, If I feel greater self-love? Yes! Well, because I have the reference of this ring, you see, it is a commitment and it is a symbol. That’s how I can remember it.
Joshu: Yes, you see it and you remember it.
Sasha: Exactly. It´s a symbol that I can remember.
Pollo: I have a question, sorry. Again, I am very very ignorant on the subject …
If one learns how to value yourself and that is why you can marry yourself isn’t it the same learning to say OK, society believes that you have to marry because the canons say that … Anyway, I can be single, alone if I am OK with myself, I do not think it is necessary to marry yourself. And yes, I understand that maybe it is something more from society than something that I really want. Do you understand the point?
Sasha: Yes, it’s not necessary and I’m thinking a lot about this now, at this moment because this idea captured society in Argentina and …
Pollo: Yes, because we have so many problems in our society so this is excellent… It´s like a break within such a big mess… that we say, OK, let´s talk about this!
Sasha: It is something different.
Pollo: Yes. It´s good.
Sasha: I have been thinking about this and I think maybe the people who have experienced abuse in their lives really need a ritual, and understand that can be valuable to do a ritual of self-love, there are people who understand exactly why … and there are people who say why you need to do this? And I think you need to have a calling for self-marriage, it needs to call you, otherwise it’s not right.
Pablo: And the paperwork is the same? You go to the registry office? It´s the same as if you marry someone?
Sasha: I didn’t do that. [I thought he was talking about a wedding registry for presents.] But I could say those are the presents I want, for me it was very quiet. It was more of an internal process, more than an external one.
Yani: And one question… I ask you a question….if you did a whole process of self-worth and self-love because of something in particular, why does it matter to you what society thinks of you because you can easily love yourself. And it´s like a little bit contradictory in the sense that if you love yourself and at some point you don´t care about what the rest thinks, why doing a ritual to show the rest? I don´t know if I’ve made myself clear.
Sasha: I think the point is to talk it out loud, to have witnesses and when I say this to you and you are my friend I promise that I want to follow this path, that I will say no to what is not good for me. I will love myself, I will consider myself beautiful. It’s a memory, the same as a wedding.
Yani: And if you fell in love with someone, for example…. ?
Sasha: It’s all good.
Yani: Can you be unfaithful to yourself?
Sasha: There are no closed doors.
Yani: Ah! Ok, yes.
Boy: In fact, in the end, it ends up being just as marrying with someone else… You are in a relationship right? And the wedding is more symbolic because… you… the love is the same, it wouldn´t change anything theoretically. So….no….
Sasha: It´s something….
Boy: If it changes, it changes, as the lawyer said. Papers change.
Pablo: Well, but…let´s say…. In terms of love… it´s the same.
Pollo: The thing is you shouldn´t marry thinking that you are going to divorce… it´s a great mistake.
Pollo: Because we should do nothing thinking, Oh, I get on the plane and I have…. And no…. You have to do things and then you…. Have to consider the consequences of what will happen… If you don´t move forward you are a coward I believe….
Yani: Sasha… and when you get to know a new person, right? Now do you tell him look, I am married to myself? No, you don´t tell him?
Juan: For me it’s OK to tell him/her anyway eh…
Sasha: No, it’s fine. When we know each other, but in the first date it would be very weird.
Yani: No, it’s not good.
Sasha: it has to be shared with time, yes, I believe.
Juan: Why did you choose to marry in Argentina?
Sasha: Because I felt freer here that I have a love for tango. I moved to Buenos Aires because of tango. I have several friends from tango and I feel like the freedom to follow this path here that for me in California, in California I was afraid of my self-marriage being seen as something from Burning Man, I don´t know if you know it.
Pollo: Yes, yes.
Sasha: But it was like I don´t want to be associated with Burning Man. I want to make it authentic, mine.
Juan: Burning Man is that festival that takes place in the desert.
Someone: And what´s the book about?
Sasha: The book is this, that is a word that I invented and it describes the people who want to be with someone and are patient, who can wait for the right person, so in that path, It’s very easy to feel social pressure because you’ve been single for many years so… that word means maybe, if you’ve been single for a long time it´s because you are selective and you are strong so it´s another perspective.
Yani: Did your parents want to kill you because of the self-wedding?
Sasha: (Laughs) No, no no!
Boy: No, no, if your parents…. Like… I don´t know, when you were thirty years old or when you were of a certain age that they made you feel…..
Yani: Pressure. That is why you decided to investigate about the subject or…?
Sasha: No, my parents were always very relaxed about marriage and they wanted me to be happy.
Yani: Ah! OK.
Sasha: I felt the pressure from society. Yes, because I think a girl feels it when she is 12, I felt like “If I have a boyfriend we are more.”
Someone: Yes, that´s true.
Sasha: Yes. It´s like you are pretty or you´re better because you have a boyfriend, why? Maybe you haven´t found the right person.
Pollo: And also, you should see, in connection with this, behind closed doors for both women and men … maybe on the outside it seems excellent and on the inside there’s a hell.
Joshi: Yes, anyway, beyond that also the society…
Juan: Both things, marriage and alone….
Boy: Now it´s not exactly like that
Pollo: Not anymore.
Yeni: Do you think that today is not exactly like that? At least… For me, to some extent it is.
Sasha: No, yes, yes, it´s still like that. (There is still social pressure to be in a relationship.) I work with those people. I am a coach and that’s one of my specialties.
Pollo: What type of coach are you?
Sasha: A life coach.
Pollo: And what does it mean?
Sasha: It´s kind of a therapist.
Sasha: But there is more action in it.
Pollo: But… is it for couples? Do you go with your partner?
Sasha: I also have couples because I have couples and they want to build a relationship where no one gets lost.
Pollo: Well, well, wait. Let´s imagine we are in the coach´s office. Can we?
Sasha: Yes! We can.
[Here’s where we start the spontaneous mini-coaching sessions….]
Pollo: Who wants to be treated by the coach? Joshi, Joshi…
Yani: The punishment because he was late.
Pollo: No, but he doesn´t want it… if he doesn´t want.
Yani: It doesn´t matter.
Pollo: We need that before…. Yani, good, perfect…. She´s decided it herself…. I didn´t decide it.
Pollo: Can you come here, Juancito? I haven´t decided it, I swear.
Juan: I liked it more the passive Jeni.
Pollo: A big round of applause to Yani.
Boy: Good Yani!
Pollo: Well, are you single, Juan? Well, deal with it yourself.
Pollo: Well, he will do a consultation.
Boy: Good Yani!
Pollo: Well, are you single, Juan? Well, deal with it yourself.
Pollo: Well, he will do a consultation.
Joshu: Will it be a performance or real life?
Pollo: No, no…. not real life.
Pablo: No, real life never.
Pollo: No, no because otherwise it´s confusing.
Sasha: Are you a client?
Sasha: Very good. I love it.
Juan (sad background music): Sasha… you know, something is happening to me lately and…. And I thought that given my age… I am already 35… I feel that many of my friends are having a family, they are finding their way in life and… I cannot manage to achieve that… I am standing to the other side of it.
Pollo: No, but he is 10 years less than what he said.
Juan: Six less years.
Yani: Don´t interrupt! Leave him…leave him!
Juan: And I feel all of them are finding their way in life… and I am staying sideway of it, but the truth is that I don’t want to force a situation to be in that train that today I feel I am not ready to get on.
Sasha: And… How do you feel about all this? What are your emotions?
Juan: Well, they are contradictory. Sometimes I feel good, I feel comfortable, I have my freedom… but other times, on a rainy Tuesday I feel I would like to have a boy by my side to watch TV.
Sasha: A boy? Or… a girl!
Someone: He is a chamuyero.
Pollo: A rainy Tuesday he goes out with an umbrella.
Sasha: Oh! A boy…. Ah….Do you want to be a father?
Pollo: He wants to be a dad to watch TV. But… he wants to be a dad for the rainy Tuesday, if it does not rain on Tuesday we are… No, no, sorry. Continue.
Sasha: And on Wednesday when it rains, you also want a child?
Juan: Yes, until Wednesday.
Sasha: I want to understand how how strong the desire is. If the desire if very strong.
Juan: It´s contradictory. There are days that it is strong, some days it´s not. There are days that are yes, the desire is strong and the days that are no.
Sasha: And when you feel it in your body, when you connect with yourself?
Juan: For me it´s hard. It´s very hard to connect with myself.
Sasha: Oh, well. Have you thought about marrying yourself?
Pollo: Ah… she is going toward that way.
Juan: Very good, very good, very good. Come Joshi, I tell you that with Joshi we have… here it´s the truth, now comes the truth… um
Sasha: Oh! Well!
Pollo: A kiss to Joshi´s mum that she always watches us.
Joshi: Ah… kisses!
Joshi: Hi Sasha
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Sasha: What do you want to focus on today?
Joshi: Um… the truth is that I don’t have a partner and maybe I feel like something is failing. Am I make myself clear? Like I don´t know very well which way to follow. if keep on like this. Or not.
Sasha: Failing as a woman or failing as what?
Joshi: Life, in life maybe… in general.
Sasha: In life…
Sasha: And is it something you really want, the relationship?
Joshi: It happens to me that sometimes yes, too much. And sometimes no. I am in a dichotomy like… Sometimes I cry, sometimes I smile.
Sasha: And what do you feel most of the time?
Joshi: Most of the time? Um… I am confused, Sasha.
Sasha: And… have you thought about marrying yourself?
Pollo: It´s OK, it´s OK.
Sasha: That is the solution.
Someone: That is the solution.
Joshu: Mmm…. Yes, I have thought about that.
Sasha: Oh, yes? Do you have vows? Have you thought about vows with yourself? (In Spanish, this word sounds like Botox)
Someone: Not Botox, vows.
Sasha: No! Vows.
Someone: The granola won´t be shared if she marries herself.
Joshi: Vows… um… yes, yes. I thought… I feel that I would be a great partner for myself.
Sasha: What would you like to promise to yourself?
Joshi: Eternal loyalty. I mean, that to begin with. Um…. Love, love.
Sasha: Love to yourself.
Joshi: Yes, love to myself. It´s weird how it sounds but…
Someone: It´s OK, it´s OK.
Sasha: And how do you express that love? How would you like to?
Joshi: I take care of myself, I do skin treatments…
Someone(boy): Me too…
Joshi: And that is self-love… and I take care of myself a lot.
Sasha: What would you like to tell yourself so that you love yourself? What your internal dialogue would be? What would you say?
Joshi: Like… a mantra to myself?
Joshi: Uf… Maybe I would repeat it all the time like… “How pretty you are!”
Sasha: That´s good!
Pollo: It´s fine!
Juan: It´s fine.
Pollo: It´s fine!
Sasha: I like it, I like it… it´s very soft.
Pollo: Excellent, excellent!
Pablo: I am beginning to think that Joshi uses all specialists who come so in real life she doesn’t pay the real ones.
Pollo: The last thing I ask you, obviously. Is it in the bookstore this book (Quirkyalone)?
Sasha: Well, today I emailed my agent to say we have to sell the rights to an Argentine publisher because there is a lot of interest now.
Sasha: There is a translated book in Brasil (SoSingular), of this book but in version, but we don´t have it yet in Argentina.
Pollo: Well, but, look… there is it, there is your instagram so that they can ask you questions there.
Pollo: Two more things before we go. I would like that with this vision of a woman with a more open mind that at least, from the people we are here. You tell me who here you believe is closest to marry himself or herself… I mean… Who of all of us, from the little you have seen us… you say… which goes that way to marry him or herself… Who do you think?
Sasha: Oh. Him! (Pointing at Juan.)
Juan: Come on Juan! You have found the love of your life.
Pollo: He does not make good coffee.
Pollo: And the last thing I say… It has nothing to do with this but I would like you to answer this. If you had to … This is an intuition, it´s almost a prejudice… Who do you believe…. From all the people who are here, maybe nobody but…Who likes men and women? Who likes people … who does not care about gender?
Sasha: Ah…you mean bisexual?
Pollo: Bisexual… who? Who? Who do you think? I want to know.
Someone(boy): Come on Sasha! Say it! It´s just a question.
Sasha: Those two. (Pointing at Yani and the other boy, Pablo)
Pollo: Those two!
Pablo: It´s OK, yes, it might be… A big round of applause to Sasha!
I'm the author of the cult hit book Quirkyalone and To-Do List and a life coach who helps quirky, creative women and self-aware men. I'm also the founder of the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires.
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Sasha Cagen is the author of the cult favorite Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Her work as an author, life coach for women and entrepreneur has been featured everywhere from NPR and the New York Times to CNN and Vogue.
In her well-loved newsletter going to thousands of women and men who identify with "quirkyalone," Sasha is the voice for people who don't want to settle--in any area of life.
In her coaching practice, Sasha helps smart, successful women (and a few self-aware men) get clear on their goals and achieve them while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.
Through Solo Chica, Sasha is creating a whole new way for women to travel solo with confidence and local contacts to support them for transformative cultural experiences.
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