Conversations about Turned-On Living with Newsletter Subscribers

Talking about Turned-On Living… okay, not on Zoom, but you get the point…

Over the last two weeks, my calendar has been busy with Zoom calls talking with women about being part of Turned-On Living 2023, the new yearlong group coaching adventure that I will be leading starting in January.

It’s been a journey that I have enjoyed!

I’ve realized and newly appreciated that being both a writer and a life coach means I get to talk with people who have read my books. This is a gift.

For me, writing is about creating connection, and I love to further the connection by getting to know readers in coaching experiences.

I want to share with you some of the reasons that women have told me they want to be part of the Turned-On Living cohort. First I will tell you about who they are.

Most of the women I’ve been talking with have been following my work for years and many are longtime Quirkyalone readers. Others have been attracted by pussywalking, Wet, my work with tango, exploring intimacy and connection, and joy pleasure as a path of personal empowerment. They are mostly in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. I’ve had one chat with a very mature thirty-year-old woman.

There are all women who want to be part of an intentional group of women who want to make the most of life.

With their permission, I am sharing with you what they told me.

Maggie said, “Ever since meeting you and watching your journey through newsletters, I have wanted to engage in coaching or something else.

I want to center myself in pleasure and intention. I hope that this journey can help me live and act on the things I have been learning from books, mentors, and therapy.

By doing this with a group of other women in similar positions and different world views, I want my desires to evolve.”

Melissa told me, “I’m drawn to the idea of meeting and sharing with other women who are on the same wavelength.”

Another woman said, “I’m solid on my ability to do hard things, deal with challenges, get shit done. I am much more unsure how to feel embodied, sensual, easeful, and joyful.

I am freaked out about being single for the first time in five years. I vaguely want to start dating again but I am feeling disconnected from that part of myself. I would like to feel like the fun, sexy version of myself more often. She exists but has made relatively few appearances in the hard slog of the last few years.

I really appreciate the emphasis on pleasure and adventure, since those are two things I am hoping to create for myself.”

Kimberly said, “I live in my head. I want to live in my body and heart. The ‘kids’ at work call me badass, yet I lack perspective on my accomplishments and belittle them. (I should have an MFA and a couple novels under my belt by now, bangs the monkey in my brain.) Then I judge that, too. The pandemic made alienation and distance feel that much further.

In the whirl of my days, selfing (deserves to be a verb) is the first thing to go. Yet it is also the cushion that centers me and makes me feel alive. I’d like to upend this equation, then slice it up and see what’s inside.

I need accountability/camaraderie/new conversations. I feel like so often I’m catching up with friends and we are scratching the surface, telling family/work/health stories by rote. I want real connection, inner peace and outer freedom.

I want to feel like the days aren’t just rolling by one after the other without depth.”

Kate told me, “I feel like I’ve lived most of my life from a place of turned-on living. I’ve tried to live a passionate authentic life. I’m missing a community to share that with.

I’m single with no kids so I recognize that it may be easier for me to live this way. But I have hope that there are other people in the world who have chosen to live their life this way and want to share that and experience that with others.

So I guess I’m looking for community. And also for support in continuing to live this way and maybe inspiration and guidance to help me to expand.”

It’s been a beautiful experience to talk about the power of being part of such an intentional group. I’m excited about the adventure we will be co-creating.

Turned-On Living will be an opportunity to practice being open and vulnerable, to be known by others, and to learn how to both give and ask for support.

If you want to read more about what we will be doing, read this curriculum that lays out the topics we will be focusing on month-by-month.

A year is a long enough time to really get to know each other and form bonds. Who knows what lifelong friendships will be formed? What adventures will be had?

There is a possible retreat that will happen in the last quarter of the year. I am leaning toward doing an optional “Dancing in the Woods in Rhode Island” weekend during the foliage season.

There are a few more spots open.

I am taking these conversations seriously by talking in depth with each person.

Creating a group is an art… we are going to be together for a year! So I want this to be an amazing group.

I am wrapping up the final interview/application calls by the end of November.

These interviews need to be booked by the end of the month.

If being part of this cohort for 2023 is intriguing to you…

Go ahead and fill out this form to tell me about you.

We can begin the getting-to-know-each-other process to see if it’s a fit for Turned-On Living 2023.

May we connect in one way or another!

Sasha

Creating Space for Your Next Steps… A December Workshop

Are you burned out, or feeling stagnant at work?

Do you long for something different for your work life? Do you want to have a more heartfelt engagement with your work?

As I talk with my clients over the last two years, I notice that more and more of us are re-examining our choices after a multi-year pandemic.

But when you don’t know what you want to do next, and every day is a fire drill, it’s easy to get stuck … for months, or even years. 

If this sounds like you, I would like to invite you to our 4-Hour Soulful Work Reboot workshop this December.

My friend and fellow coach Jade Strattner and I are bringing together a group of women with the shared goal of imagining next steps and new possibilities for 2023.

This workshop is for women who have traditionally been high-achievers, conscientious types who work hard to do and be their best–and are longing for fulfillment and balance in their work lives.

This will be an intimate space to get real, be open, share, and envision together.

We don’t imagine you will figure EVERYTHING out in four hours but you will get unstuck and invigorated on a path to follow in the coming year.

The Four-Hour Soulful Work Reboot will take place over two Saturdays, December 3 and 10, 12-2 pm.

We have separated the workshop into two (2) two-hour chunks because we have so much to share with you, and four hours on zoom is deadening!

The pause in between our sessions will give you time to reflect and ideate.

Expect to come away invigorated and inspired with concrete next steps you can follow up on in 2023.

What will we talk about?

  • Our current experience with work
  • How and why are we each redefining ambition
  • What a heartfelt connection with work feels like for each of us

What will the experience be like?

  • Embodied–Getting out of our heads and into our bodies
  • Joyful–Express, learn, dance, and laugh
  • Intimate and Supportive–Each workshop will be limited to 20 women, integrated with a pre- or post-Lab thirty-minute one-on-one mini coaching session to help you get the most value out of the group session.

Spaces are limited (20 women max) so don’t delay to sign up.

If you are interested, and unsure if this is right for you, send me an email about your personal situation.

I’ll read it over and let you know if this is a match for you.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Some Reflections on “Selling”

I had an interesting experience last week when talking with a woman about joining Turned-On Living, my group coaching program for 2023. This is something very new and exciting to bring together a cohort to explore a year of “turned-on living” together.

She asked me to “sell her” on it and I noticed that I froze up when she made that request. I never want to feel like I am “selling” anyone on anything I am offering, whether it’s coaching, an online course, the Tango Adventure (not offering it now, but I spent years “selling” that), or anything I am doing. I want people to want to do whatever I am offering. It’s a little bit like romance: if we are dating, I want you to want me. I don’t want to sell you on the value of dating me!

After our call, however, I reflected. I joined a yearlong business coaching program for 2022, which is in part what has inspired me to offer a yearlong program myself. Meg, the woman who runs the program, in my view, “sold” me on joining by painting a picture that showed me I could learn how to work on my book and grow my business at the same time (for years I thought I couldn’t do both and focused exclusively on the memoir while maintaining the same offerings).

I am now grateful that Meg “sold” me on that vision because, in fact, I have been able to do both in 2022, and that was a breakthrough. Many other wonderful things have happened as a result of my participation in that group business coaching container, and the decision to join has changed me and my life for the better–really for the rest of my life. Now I look back and see her as taking a stand for me and my growth.

So I realized that I could “sell” this person on the experience. I wrote her a longish email spelling out what I saw for her, based on my own experience of being part of such a group. Because I actually do believe that being part of my program will change her life for the better. She has told me what she wants out of it, and I believe she will get those things, and more. Also I really do believe that being part of such a group is in and of itself a transformative experience, and that we need to feel solidarity in all these tender, vulnerable places where we are often shamed and feel alone. And there will simply be so much upward spiral with a group of women supporting each other to live a turned-on life!

Entrepreneurship–or being a freelancer, or doing anything creative in the world–is such a journey that requires everything. No paycheck is dropped into the bank account regularly. You/I have to stand up for your own value and create what you want to offer for the world, and then, yes, SELL people on it. Now I feel really glad that this woman asked me to sell her, and that I found my way to feeling good about doing that. “Selling” can have a connotation of lying. It can evoke desperation. I certainly felt that way when I worked in more traditional business roles for a tech company. But in the end, I was telling the truth as I see it. It’s liberating to stand in that space and fully own the value of what I am offering.

I hope these reflections can help you stand in the value of what you are offering to the world too!

The Pleasure and Pain of Plunging into Cold Water, Inch by Inch

 

My fascination began in March 2020, one of those weeks when the pandemic started to get all too real. Quarantine had just begun.

One evening when I wasn’t freaking out reading an Atlantic article predicting how long this pandemic might last (three to four years, I distinctly remember reading), I watched Goop Lab on Netflix, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness show. Many people enjoy hating Gwyneth, but I like her program’s mission. I enjoy trying out wellness trends too. Heck, I would love to have my own show Sasha Lab. In the first season, Gwyneth and her staff tested out everything from using psychedelics for healing trauma to exploring female masturbation with the queen of self-pleasure Betty Dodson.

The episode featuring the Dutch extreme athlete and health expert Wim Hof (also known as the “IceMan”) sucked me right in. The bearded, ruddy-faced iconoclast talked about how going way outside of our comfort zones by immersing ourselves in cold water can make us stronger. Hof explained that he had worked with researchers at universities for years to demonstrate that cold-water therapy worked to boost the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, alleviate inflammation, cope with depression and anxiety, and control pain. His message, in essence: If you can stand the cold water, you can take control of your health.

Gwyneth’s staff jumped into an unimaginably freezing, snowy Lake Tahoe under his tutelage. I watched, riveted, on the couch, and thought, I could try a cold shower. That night I turned the dial in the shower to the right, but I couldn’t handle the blast. The cold felt water like bullets. I jumped backward and strained to turn the dial back. Wimp, I thought to myself, resigned.

The lure of the cold stayed with me though, even if I didn’t believe I would ever meet its challenge. When I first watched that show, I was sitting on the couch in Buenos Aires, where I had been living for five years. Weeks later I found myself back in Rhode Island, crashing at my mother’s house. It was the beginning of the pandemic when going to Walgreen’s was exciting. Nature was all we had.

I told Elizabeth, my only friend in Rhode Island, that I wanted to try cold plunges. Elizabeth knew a woman who ran a group. She sent me her contact. I got added to a list.

Soon I was getting emails with the subjects “Plunge tomorrow noon” and “4 pm swim—anyone interested?”

cold water plunge rhode island

Mackerel Cove, Jamestown, Rhode Island, March 2021

One April 2020 day I took off on a forty-five-minute drive south to find the plungers. The calm beach at Mackerel Cove in Jamestown is a crescent-shaped cove with soft white sand and calm blue-green waters. The beach was starkly beautiful in early spring. I was glad for the beauty and to get out of the house. Six people emerged from their cars: one man, and five women, donning bathrobes and pink felt ponchos over their bathing suits, swim caps in hand.

I waved hello and introduced myself.

They yelled, “It’s tropical! It’s balmy! It’s so warm!” The temperature hovered around forty Fahrenheit. I didn’t agree, but I found the group charming. In their excitement, these forty-, fifty-, and sixty-somethings looked and sounded like boisterous schoolkids who got together to play. One of them did a jig on the way into the water. I dipped my feet in that day as they plunged but that was enough. I still didn’t see myself becoming one of those people. And that was that.

A year later the pandemic was still raging. The emails about cold plunges started to fill my inbox again.

In early February 2021, I answered one, “I’m coming!” By the next winter of isolation, I had grown desperate. I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone again after so many evenings spent watching Netflix in isolation. I took up running in the morning, but I remembered seeing something else in those middle-aged eyes: true joy. True joy had been lacking in my life that pandemic winter. I didn’t know what, but I still suspected something was on the other side of the cold water. I wanted to experience it, whatever it was.

The wind whipped across the beach that gray day in late February. In New England, the winter sun descends before 5 pm. I came wearing a bikini, but I kept my pants on and rolled them up to my knees. I walked in up to about three inches, and then darted out of the icy water. In and out, in and out, six times. I didn’t get far. Submerging my ankles pushed me to my limit. Meanwhile, the group stayed in fortyish-degree water for fifteen minutes even when the air temperature dipped to the thirties. Some of them even swam. Their heads capped, they walked out radiant, glowing. Mostly women. I had never seen anything more badass.

One of them told me on the beach, “Just keep coming back and go in as much as you can.”

And so it went. I came through February and March and didn’t make it any deeper than my knees. I developed a reputation as a shrieker. I would yell and throw my arms in the air, the 45-degree water an assault on my toes, ankles. and calves, and throw my arms around like a windmill to release the pain. The women taught me how to warm up my feet after plunging (bring bottles of hot water and a basin for a spa bath post-plunge).

post-plunging spa

post-plunging spa

My envy grew every trip. This was a higher level of joy these people got out of cold-water plunging than anything I have ever seen from my fellow Americans. The group called themselves “What’s Wrong with These People People?” One day someone shouted to them from a car, “What’s wrong with you people?” The name was born. These were definitely among the more interesting characters I’d met since returning to Rhode Island.

Plungers are not your average people.

One day walking on the beach toward me, the tall, bald Michael the leader of the pack, 68, a retired scientist and high school swim coach, shouted into the air with his arms raised to the sky, “What’s wrong with us? We feel like this! I turn into a love machine. I love everything, the sand, the sky, people! It’s like that! Something about what the cold does to your body unleashes that.”

I made about fifteen attempts between February and April.

One afternoon I drove to the 4 pm meeting spot with the conviction, today will be my breakthrough. I don’t know if I am going to turn into a love machine but I am going to get into the water.

That weekend I happened to read an essay in The New York Times about a woman who turned to cold-water therapy after an unimaginable tragedy. Her husband killed their two children and then himself. She had come to stay with her aunt on Long Island and found her way to a small group of her own. I understood the attraction. There had been one day after a writing class when I felt a heavy load of shame in my body after presenting work; intuitively I knew the thing to do to shake off those feelings in my body would be to join the group. Even when I only got into my knees or hips, the cold zapped me like a kind of shock therapy. The sensation was so strong that it wiped away negative emotions and took me right into the present moment.

The obliterating quality of the cold water renewed me, even when I didn’t get all the way in.

Inside that gorgeous essay about grief, I found a simple tip.

The writer said, get into shoulder level and breathe thirty seconds to get to the other side. OK, I thought, I will try.

That April afternoon in Jamestown seven of us met. It was a windy, sunny day, on the brink of spring. The water registered at forty-five degrees, bath-like compared to the thirty-nine when I started coming in February.

I walked in with the group further than ever before past my knees, past my hips, and let the water shock my belly. My hands presented the biggest challenge. They hurt the most. I didn’t want to put them in. But I did. I submerged my hands and then my shoulders, breathing to a count of thirty. Around twenty-nine, the pain gave way to vibrating numbness on my skin. A minute or two after counting, the strangest thing happened. My inner fire lit. Somewhere deep inside of my guts a heat built, a contrast to the cold water surrounding me, and the dark water turning into a strangely silky viscous thing. I started to float with happiness, this bizarre combination of cold water surrounding me, a furnace within.

One of the other plungers wore a waterproof watch. “How long has it been? How long has it been?” I asked obsessively. I wanted to quantify my breakthrough.

I stayed in for fourteen minutes that first time, so insanely gleeful.

You never forget the first time.

cold water plunging wim hof rhode island

My breakthrough day in Jamestown, April 2021.

 

The air felt surprisingly warm that day when we got out. It was 50 or so on the beach. My legs and arms and chest blotted red, dotted with blood vessels. We looked like lobsters coming out of the water. My hands hurt. My hands felt stiff.

“Don’t worry about that,” Mike said, as he saw me regarding my hands. “Cold-water swimmers call it claw-hand. It’s the first sign of hypothermia but it’s not serious, it’s just the beginning.”

The dull ache in my hands faded enough for me to use my hands, pouring my bottles of steaming hot water into my foot basin. I stepped in. My blocky feet thawed as I stood there on the sandy beach in Jamestown by a bridge and behind a hotel, sailboats moored, dormant until warmer days. The high came on gradually. I started to finally feel it, the thing I had been after all along, the bodily joy I had lusted after for months started to take root.

It’s hard to describe the feeling but when the physical reaction came on it was like a flood of warm lights turning on inside, lit up from within. Since then it’s become clear to me that the colder the water is, the more endorphins are produced in the reaction. In this way, swimming in the winter can become even more pleasurable than in the summer. The French call orgasm petit mort, or little death. You die from the intensity of the sensation, then you are reborn. The cold water is a petit mort.

When I was leaving on that breakthrough day, one of the women in the group came over to her car next to mine.

“So you have been coming all this time and this was the first time you felt it?”

“Yup.”

“You must really like to torture yourself!”

“Maybe. I guess I had faith that I would eventually get there.” 

Of course, she was raising that age-old question: do we dive in quickly into the waves or cautiously enter inch by inch? Everyone finds their own way, if we are persistent enough. Maybe what I loved most of all in that moment was my persistence. When it comes to accomplishing big things, there is nothing more important than persistence.

Have I kept up cold-water therapy? Am I still plunging? Yes. A year later, I am still at it, feeling more like an official group member. I got all the way into the water up to my shoulders on January 1, something I am proud of, but I’ve taken a break recently as the air temperatures dip to the teens. I have my limits. But you know what? I also take cold showers now. Transformation is indeed possible.

I sometimes ask myself, Why? Why do you drive forty-five minutes each way to do something that most people regard as insane? Isn’t there an easier way to feel good? Why not play a joyful playlist and throw your own private dance party at home?

We need many strategies to feel good in our bodies, at least I do. Cold-water plunging is a special pleasure. Sometimes I think it’s the people—the opportunity to share this incredible, outside-the-comfort zone enthusiasm with the other plungers gives me energy for life. The group plunge is a communal kind of orgasm. Sometimes I think it’s the intensity—the pleasure matches the pain. That intensity feels like a confirmation of what it feels like to be a human being, a sensitive one anyway. And of course, there is the possibility of a lovely after-effect. The coldwatergasm can last for hours.

As it turns out, doing this one hard thing has helped me to do other hard things. I often think, if I can do the cold water, I can do this too. Get through this break-up. Publish that book.

I recently re-watched the Goop Lab episode that originally inspired me. I was struck by how much didn’t even register the first time. The idea of getting into the cold water so bowled me over. In the episode, Hof talks about how he turned to cold water immersion to get over the suicide of his wife, the mother of his four children. I didn’t remember that. One doesn’t have to be recovering from tragedy to turn to cold-water therapy—people plunge for many reasons—but that deeply therapeutic, wiped-clean effect does seem to be part of the draw for many. Wim said his children helped him survive, but the cold water healed him.

“You can go into the cold water and adapt, and with that, you become the alchemist of life itself,” he said. I smiled at this thought as I watched on the couch the second time, two years later. I knew exactly what he meant this time. Amen.

Michael, the swim coach, and I celebrate my breakthrough plunge a week later 🙂

our group plunging new year's day jamestown ri

New Year’s Plunge, 2022

Rhode Island PBS recently came to film a segment with a few different groups of Rhode Islanders who dare to swim in frigid waters during the winter, and my group is the first to be profiled. You can meet Mike the swim coach here for yourself. Look for my butt around 4:48 as we enter Third Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island. 😉

Are you 50+ and demoralized about dating? Join me for this free online event to launch Fifty First Dates After Fifty

When I talk to my women coaching clients who are 50+, I hear a lot of frustrations about dating. What’s the best dating site to use? Are all the good ones taken? And what about internalized ageism? Is it really too late to find love or is that a story you have been telling yourself based on negative experiences? Does anyone really want to get involved with someone who doesn’t want to shack up together? SPOILER ALERT: Yes! There are plenty of quirkytogethers (or aspiring living-alone-togethers) out there, people who want a committed relationship but not to cohabitate.

This topic of finding love at every life stage (and keeping your sexual spark alive too) is near and dear to my heart because I know it’s not easy but it is possible to find a new mate and feel sexy at every age–I see those stories play out around me in my personal life and with my clients. I also have noticed many women who came to Buenos Aires to study tango with me convinced that no one would find them attractive. I’ve seen those same women get checked out by the men in the milongas with my own two eyes.

The story we tell ourselves about what is possible makes all the difference.

All of this is why I am really excited to invite you to this free online event.

On Thursday, November 4, at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET (NYC time), come hang out with us as I interview my dear friend Carolyn Arnold about her new memoir Fifty First Dates after Fifty.

Carolyn, an inveterate social scientist, and definitely a quirky, independent woman, devised an unusual, and highly structured, dating plan to go on 50 first dates to find the right partner for her in her late fifties. Not everyone would want to go on 50 dates–personally that marathon of first dates sounds hellish to ambiverted me!

But I admire Carolyn’s pluck–and the example of resilience she is providing by sharing her story. I’ll be asking her about how she stitched her heart back together after disappointments and rejections.

You can read this interview I did with Carolyn way back in 2012 to get a taste for Carolyn’s story and the themes of support, sex-while-single and self-love we will be talking about.

This event will be a chance to hear about Carolyn’s book, get inspired, and learn about how other women 50+ are faring in the dating scene.

If you have been considering working with me as your life coach this free event is a nice low-pressure chance to get to know me a little better and see me in action interviewing Carolyn.

If you are over 40, 50, 60, or 70 and battle voices in your head that tell you it’s too late, you should definitely come. Yes, it’s great to come to peace with being single, we all need to walk that path to find contentment and joy exactly where we are right now in life. But if love is something you really want, then why give up and deny that? You can register here.

P.S. In reality, everything we are going to talk about will be relevant to people of all ages – so if you are any age and dating or contemplating dating again, you should join us.

For the highly sensitive souls: emotional hygiene

I am a highly sensitive person, and I tend to attract highly sensitive people as my readers and clients. I’ve been shamed for being “too sensitive” many times and I have gotten to a place in life where I don’t allow anyone to tell me that I am too sensitive anymore. Telling someone they are “too sensitive” is a way of invalidating that’s person’s emotions. Sensitivity can be a challenge but it’s also a strength.

Being a sensitive person, unabashedly so (!), I have found that in order to live well and move forward in my life, and not get too stuck, I need to consistently practice “emotional hygiene.”

You might have heard about “sleep hygiene” but maybe not “emotional hygiene.” We need to take care of our emotions and release them. Otherwise our anger, fear, and sadness can get lodged in our bodies and even cause us pain, anxiety, insomnia, and the fun list goes on. Or the sadness after a breakup stick with us forever, and we don’t move on. Hello RO – romantic obsession!

The key is to find practices that work for you and repeat them. It’s not a matter of trying something new every week but instead finding what’s new inside of doing a practice.

One of my favorites is called the Milagrows practice. If you have been part of my online classes or a coaching client I might have shared it with you. The Milagrows practice is about practicing gratitude for all the s#$ in your life – naming what you don’t like, and then welcoming it with gratitude. It’s a practice of self-acceptance and acknowledgment.

If you are riding the waves of life and want a simple journalling practice to help you welcome it all, check it out here.

And if you are a sensitive soul, don’t let anyone tell you you are too sensitive!

The Ongoing Quest for Authenticity

To write authentically as a life coach feels like a strange balance–because I never know quite how far to go in writing the messy, ugly, juicy details of my own life.

When I became a life coach in 2013, I noticed that some of my creative energy to write real, tell-all, blog posts dried up.

I had always written truthfully about my life through my books, personal essays, and blog posts. Writing truthfully about my life was my thing! Writing is more alive when it’s more real.

But when I took on this new professional direction, I felt afraid to go all the way there in my blog writing. Some revealing pieces languished.

I guess I thought I was “supposed to have it all together” and that it wouldn’t be good for potential clients or the clients I already had to know that much about me. Like, that time I got obsessed with the Tinder Guy in Atlanta and stayed up all night on the phone talking with him. As in, wasn’t that unhinged? Or the ways that dishes used to pile up in my sink. I suppose I judged myself, expecting others would judge me too. The desire to look perfect. Oh!

Being reluctant to disclose personal information is common for people in these helping professions. Therapists and counselors are generally sparing with self-disclosure.

When I’m coaching, I generally veer toward a limited approach to self-disclosure–that is to say, I don’t talk much about myself. I may share something personal if I believe that may help the client. If I share a tidbit, I try to share the reason I am sharing it first. In the end, life coaching is about you and your life, not me.

So then, how does this level of disclosure translate to my blog and writing? I’ve been pondering this question over the last few months because I want to take risks in my blogging again.

I’ve noticed that “vulnerable” blog posts from life coaches are popular but those kinds of posts often present some kind of formulaic tips or answers for life problems, as if we are only supposed to share when we have resolved the problem (or our foibles) to our own satisfaction and tell you the answers in the rear view mirror.

Sometimes I don’t have “answers”–and I don’t want to even pretend to have them.

I was talking about this dilemma with my friend Jenny Bitner, a hypnotherapist. We both have artistic and therapeutic sides of our work. Jenny said, “It feels hard in any field where you are offering help to admit your own problems.”

“People are very drawn to someone who appears together and confident…not that you can’t be both,” she also said. That’s the question. Can we appear together and confident, and admit that we are a work-in-progress with problems of our own? Do we want to read about Oprah’s meltdowns, or do we want her to only guide us with wisdom?

I’m after authenticity because that’s what feels most alive. By its nature, being authentic involves risk. I notice lots of young YouTube stars posting videos like “misconceptions about me” or “mental health chat” where they talk about their own problems. I get inspired by their courage and transparency. I mean, I know people think I am transparent too but only I know what I’m not sharing!

If I am honest I myself am drawn to people who are quite explicit in acknowledging they don’t have their perfect lives all worked out either.

Authenticity is a constant quest because what felt authentic a year ago may not feel authentic now.

These are questions I have been sitting with. I’m wanting to return to the more risky, personal online versions of my writing, and trust that works.

From here on out, I’m going to try to be even a wee bit more authentic and unafraid to be a human, writer and life coach and all. Let’s see how that adventure goes. Eeeek!

What about you? Do you have any places in your life where you would like to show up more authentically, but you are afraid to do so?

Quirkyalone? on the Solo Podcast

I so enjoyed talking with Dr. Peter McGraw, a behavioral economist at the University of Colorado who is investigating solitude and how to create a remarkable single life, now or forever.

It’s kinda crazy. I have done many fantastic podcasts about being quirkyalone with women, and this was the first time I talked with a man who is investigating these topics!

Peter and I chatted about:
the problem of “internalized inferiority,” of seeing our single periods as lesser than our coupled periods and the tragedy of waiting to be coupled up to do the things you most want to do in life (I share about how I’ve struggled with this too)

my personal story behind quirkyalone, and why I chose that combination over, say, “freakyalone”!

quirkyalones in pop culture in the 90s and oughts, from Love Jones to Ally McBeal

how single people have been ignored–at least in the US–in policy discussions during the pandemic

why quirkyalone, even though it seems to be a celebration of singlehood, is also, in its deepest core, an argument for depth in relationship

the many ways people meet needs for connection in 2021, with everything from Tinder to solo poly

why I prefer to talk about self-acceptance and wholeness rather than being a “happy single.” Being happy all the time is just way too much pressure! And going for what we want in life may involve some pain, discomfort and struggle.

Here’s a little teaser before you click to listen in…
“The choice of the word quirky, why? Can you tease us with some of the alternatives that you considered?
In the book Quirkyalone, I have a bunch of alternatives like eccentricalone, bizarrealone, or freakyalone.
Freakyalone is a whole different book and it’s in a different section of the library. It’s not in the library, first of all.
Why quirky? It’s because quirky is softer, for one. It’s eccentric but with a human touch that makes you feel you can get warm and cuddly with a quirky person in a way that maybe you don’t feel you can with freakyalone. It was that sense that I had as a young person and has remained the same as I get older. I only connect with a certain amount of people. I’m not a generic person and quirkyalones are not cookie-cutter type. It’s a practical recognition for a quirky person.
It may take a little longer to find someone who matches you, not that they have to have all the same quirks. Everybody is completely individual and all of my work has this honoring of our quirkiness. When I work with clients, for example, I’m interested in finding out who they are and how they tick because everybody’s different. That’s my orientation to the world. The quirky part is the way of honoring that. I love that about us as people.”

Reflecting on a year of pandemic and protest. Come be human with us around the storytelling circle.

To make sense of my dizzying move back to Rhode Island from Argentina at the start of the pandemic I wrote this blog post.

Today at 5 pm ET I’ll read a portion of that piece about the split-second decision I had to make about leaving Argentina as the borders were closing in the countries all around me as part of a What Cheer Writers’ Club Zoom series of short readings from Rhode Islanders reflecting on 2020, a year of pandemic and protest.

I was really looking forward to joining What Cheer to connect with other writers in my home state. There haven’t been any in-person events since I moved back in March, but it’s certainly cool to connect with other writers virtually.

The pandemic can have a way of making us feel less than human since we have to wear masks and keep distance from each other to stay safe. Storytelling is a good way to keep our humanity alive. To gather around the virtual campfire and listen to each other. Maybe listening in will inspire you to write.

So if you’re free today and looking for something human and different to do today, join us at 5 pm ET. To get access, sign up here on Eventbrite to get the Zoom link!

Three-page gratitude list…even in this disaster of a year

To all my readers, those in the US and not,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is probably the best, purest American holiday based on a value that I most appreciate: gratitude.

It’s not always simple to access gratitude for the blessings in our lives–and there’s always something to be grateful for. I just wrote a three-page list of everything and everyone I am grateful for and there is so much. Even in this disaster of a year there is so much!

There was one Thanksgiving, maybe 2012, I spent alone in the year after I got diagnosed as celiac. I couldn’t deal yet with navigating life gluten-free at Thanksgiving. I spent the day alone in my Oakland apartment making a pot of chicken soup and dwelling on gratitude, which actually took me to a kind of high solitude state. This was the opposite of loneliness, of lack: I felt so abundant dwelling in myself, thinking about all the goodness in my life. I realized then it was possible to go on a gratitude fest alone on Thanksgiving. I love social Thanksgivings too–don’t get me wrong–but it was nice to realize that there was another solitude-filled way to celebrate too.

This year will be a combination for me: solo time today and tomorrow my family will gather for an outdoor Thanksgiving. Today it’s raining.

I’m grateful to all of you who have been readers of my books and corresponders from the newsletter, those who are eager for my memoir to come out (you help me keep going), those who have come on Tango Adventures and participated in online classes, those who have tried out pussywalking and written me about their experiences, and my coaching clients who I find to be amazing people. You quirky people are all pretty fantastic. I hope for new things to emerge to engage with you on after I finish up with this book – so stay tuned for 2021!

I hope you have a beautiful day whether alone or together. Make a list of everything, everything you are grateful for. It’s fun. Three pages minimum. Get super granular and quirky.

Happy Thanksgiving!