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.”
Happy new year all! Even though clearly the start of 2021 has not turned a new page for us in the US (last week’s events in D.C. at the Capital are pretty damn shocking) I still believe we have the right to wish ourselves a happy new year. So happy new year.
I’m glad to share this podcast with you in the first month of the new year. This is a funny one. My soon-to-be sister-in-law Rachael Dubinsky (she’s marrying my very lucky little bro Dan) recently started a podcast called Wicked Writers with the intention of talking about taboo topics. She found the right writer-relative to interview in me! Pretty much all my writing touches on shame, the things we don’t want to admit, in the service of healing. My own, yours, the world’s….
In this podcast you get to hear me explain all the wild and wonderful stuff I have been up to for the last years, from becoming a celebrity in Argentina for being the first woman to marry myself in that country (this was nuts) to the long journey of writing a scarily honest memoir (and why writing memoir can take years and years).
I invite you to take a listen, here’s what you will hear us talk about:
* Loneliness vs. solitude
* The upcoming version of an updated Quirkyalone
* Being quirkytogether: designing a couple relationship honestly and as a path of intimacy
* Tips for carving out your own space during Covid if living with others
* The revealing nature of the pandemic. When distractions are stripped away we may find truths we haven’t wanted to face.
* The path of healing through clicks in our bodies (things we can’t reach alone just by talking that we need to feel)
* The long process that is memoir-writing. It’s not uncommon that it takes 8 to 10 years to write a memoir and why it’s important to know that.
* Why I started a coaching practice
* Decisions as we get older about what’s really important
* Uncovering authentic sexuality beyond all the cliches as life force energy, and how pussywalking is one easy way to tap into that life force energy
* Obstacles and opportunities of dating during Covid
* Rules of engagement in online dating
At the end of the podcast there is a special secret word for those of you who are interested in coaching with me… but you have to listen to the podcast to discover what that word is and what secret worlds it grants you access to visit!
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.
Though loneliness has become something of a hot topic in the media, I wonder how many of us would feel comfortable to say it out loud to another friend or loved one, “I’m lonely.”
Many of us are reluctant to admit to others when we feel lonely.
I know from my own life and working with quirkyalone/quirkytogether people that loneliness has particular dimensions for people who have been selective in their choices and spent many years being single.
We don’t talk about the loneliness of that path all that much–for example the loneliness of staring down a weekend with no plans.
We wind up feeling even more lonely alone when we don’t see our experience reflected back to us or discussed.
Laura who has been following quirkyalone for 15 years and I first talked over Skype to discuss the focus of our conversation.
We settled on the theme the loneliness of single shame, or of believing something is wrong with you if you have been single for years or just longer than you want to be.
I highly recommend you listen in. Generally when I do conversations with others on single shame it’s healing for someone out there.
This conversation can help you prepare for those awkward moments on dates when someone asks you how long it’s been since your last relationship.
Even more I hope this intimate conversation can help you feel more at peace as you gradually rid yourself of those nagging “there’s something wrong with me” voices in your head.
I remember evading questions on dates when men would ask me, So how long has it been since your last relationship? I felt marked–like something was wrong with me–because I had been single for years.
I’ve since helped many clients who have coped with similar feelings of shame so I know quite well by now single shame can be quite a “thing.”
In our conversation, I talked about my own experience of working through single shame to the end point of owning my story as a discerning quirkyalone and about my experiences helping others along that journey.
The interview is called “From Single Shame to Owning Your Story as a Discerning Quirkyalone.”
Our interview will be aired Saturday, February 23, 2019.
Laura’s series TRANSFORMING LONELINESS: Follow Your Heart’s Longing into Connection, Belonging, and Love will be available FREE from February 19 – 26.
LIke many women in the U.S., when I was in my late thirties I started to get very tired. I worried that I might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Sometimes when I took a walk for two miles I needed four hours on the couch to recover, and even taking a shower and getting dressed sometimes exhausted me. I visited all the Western medicine specialists and paid to see a naturopath. I already had been diagnosed with celiac disease so I already needed to eat gluten-free. My food options narrowed to a paleo diet. I ate a strict paleo diet for six months. Even then, nothing worked.
After nearly a year of spending all my energy on my health, and really not having anything to show for it in terms of improvement, I asked myself: what makes life worth living? What do I enjoy? The answer was tango in Buenos Aires.
My gut told me the cure would be tango in Buenos Aires. That intuition paid off. I moved to Buenos Aires for eight months in 2012 and my condition improved; my energy came back.
That’s my personal story of physical tango healing, and there are many. The untold story of tango is a story of tango healing. Many people get into tango because they are going through a break-up or divorce. Tango doesn’t only heal a broken heart. Tango has been shown heal or give relief to the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, loneliness and depression.
Tango doesn’t only help physical conditions. Tango can also help with complex body-mind somatization of past trauma.
When we experience trauma the trauma often gets left in our bodies as a kind of residue. If we don’t shake off the trauma the effects stay and our somatized as illness or even as stooping posture. It’s very hard to heal something so deeply ingrained as a style of interrelating with the world through your body. Posture, how you stand, how you carry yourself, and how you feel yourself in a relationship: these are all very profound habits and ways of relating to others and the world.
Tango can help you become more aware of how you relate to yourself and to the world–and give you a path of healing and transformation on the dance floor and off.
In this talk, I speak about the Healing Power of Tango and why and how tango heals. . . physically and psychologically. I talk about:
–tango as a mirror to see your patterns in relationships
–tango as a tool to build confidence and attitude and improve your posture
–tango as a tool for healing trauma
Do you have a story of healing through tango? I’d love to hear it. Please share as a comment or send an email.
Joe Yang, a tango teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, recently interviewed me for Joe’s Tango Podcast. Joe’s podcast is for people who are who are starting to fall in love with the dance of tango and want to learn from different experts in the field. I share a bit of my own tango story and talked about my work combining tango and life coaching through the Tango Adventure and with my one-on-one coaching clients who take up tango. We talked about my tango writing too (right now, I’m deep at work on my memoir Wet, which is a journey of healing the effects of trauma through sensual experiences, so tango plays a big role in the story).
We literally talked about all things tango. Joe started off asking me the moment/s I knew I wanted tango would be a big part of my life, and we got to talking about advice I would give beginning dancers. I’ll give you a little teaser with an answer to that last question: RELAX! Relaxing and being in the moment is the most important piece of advice I would give. How do you relax? Many people want the answer to be a glass of wine. There is a better answer. Surrender to the hug.
Here’s some of the other stuff we talked about:
The transformative power of tango–tango has always been about way more than tango for me, and that’s how I teach it. Tango really is a mirror for our lives and how we operate in relationships
Advice for beginners to enjoy a milonga
The emotional roller coaster of being a beginning tango student (at least it was for me)
Tango teaching philosophies: when you let go of being perfect, learning tango can be fun and easy
The embrace! The essence of tango is the embrace; if you want to feel a true tango embrace, that’s a big reason to try tango in Buenos Aires
Tango communities–what makes them good and what makes them snobby (the dark side of tango)
Healing through tango! Tango’s healing power is really important to me. I’ve been exploring this topic for myself over the last seven years and using tango as a tool with my clients to heal the effects of sexual trauma in particular.
I shared a lot about the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires too! If you’re interested in joining us and want to learn a bit more, definitely give this podcast a listen. I explain to Joe how I first got the idea to start the Tango Adventure from my own experience of healing through tango in many ways. I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve collected through a week-long immersion in Buenos Aires.
With us, you can learn the true essence of tango that goes beyond steps and in many ways you just can’t learn that anywhere else but Buenos Aires.
Here’s the podcast to give it a listen!
Listen on iTunes: http://apple.co/2eOGdlc
Or Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/2zYANMk
Or Stitcher: http://bit.ly/2xNrUWA
A current to-do list. There is a madness to my methods.
Sometimes people will send me messages asking, how do you make this work? How do you earn a living, find clients or get published? I never really know what to say because the process of building a life as a writer, life coach, and now a transformative tango guide was slow and winding, full of so many twist and turns. You could say the path has been full of to-do lists. See above.
I’ve been writing professionally since 1997 when I wrote for the Village Voice, and I’ve been at work on creating a business since 2011. I have learned from so many people on both fronts and I’m still learning. There’s no one single way to answer the question.
If you have your own business or you have thought about creating one, your Facebook feed might be full of ads about programs that cost $10,000 and promise a quick-fix answer. While there is a lot of helpful education out there, and I’ve benefited from taking many classes and working with coaches (in fact, I never could have gotten this far without all that learning), there is no single magic bullet. If you’re constructing a quirky business or writing career, you have to learn from your own path. From experimentation, leaps, and experience. Each person’s journey will be unique. If you want to wrote a book, of course your book will be unique too.
SEO expert and entrepreneur lady Cinthia Pacheco interviewed me for this her podcast Digitally Overwhelmed. Cinthia helps women online entrepreneurs with analytics and content strategy.
We talk about:
* Bringing together disparate interests in your business–or do you have to focus on one thing? Is it OK to have an SEO business and post pictures of your cat? Is it OK to talk about quirkyalone and tango?
* Fears of failure. I still work with these all the time.
* The importance of finding your people for support. Indispensable. No one does it alone.
I recommend that you listen to this if you’re interested in building your own quirky business. We try to be as real and helpful as possible!
Unclassified Woman is a wonderful podcast about combatting “limiting female narratives”:
“With almost 25% of women over 40 child-free by choice or childless through circumstance, it seems absurd that women still have to justify their decisions or endure pity about why they’re not mothers. Motherhood is not a mandate and yet so many women are made to feel ‘less than’ or viewed suspiciously or disparagingly, if they are creating a life of meaning beyond biological mothering.
All of these outdated stereotypes lead to one dangerous assumption: what’s your value beyond being a mother? As mainstream society still tends to over-celebrate mothers juggling ‘it all’, and under-celebrate women who, whilst not mothers, have created lives of purpose and service – Unclassified Woman is the perfect antidote to limiting female narratives.”
Michelle Marie McGrath, the creator of Unclassified Woman, and I recorded an intimate conversation last year.
I remember the conversation being so personal that I was afraid to listen to it when she sent it to me. I summoned the courage, pressed play and found the conversation very nourishing.
I hope you will find the realness nourishing too.
In our Unclassified Woman conversation, we go into:
– the messy truth about why I haven’t had children, and many women today do not
– social infertility and circumstantial infertility (our choices are not always entirely choices)
– a near-death experience I had that helped me see I can’t put myself through so much pain around comparing myself and the value of my life to friends who are mothers
– the process of grieving not having a child even though I was never sure I wanted to be a biological mother
– the delicious moment when you figure out who you are and stand for your own value
International Quirkyalone Day is an alternative to Valentine’s Day that I started way back in 2003. It falls, of course, on February 14. It’s just a coincidence. Well, that’s our story and we’re sticking with it.
Since then Quirkyalone Day been celebrated in more than 40 cities around the world as an inclusive holiday to celebrate all forms of love, including, of course, self-love! Self-love is the foundation for all your relationships, ultimately–with friends, family, and a romantic partner.
If you are new to the concept and the holiday, here’s a video to get you up to speed.
Let me highlight also that in 2017 it’s more important than ever to recognize that Quirkyalone Day is a celebration of independence.
This year I encourage to celebrate your independent voice and encourage you to use it to speak out!
Political leaders such as Elizabeth Warren are exhibiting this independent streak–and they deserve our support.
I look at the CNN video where Elizabeth Warren talks about being silenced when she tried to read Corretta Scott KIng’s letter on Jeff Sessions and I see people making nasty comments about her that are so similar to the 25-year campaign against Hillary. “Not an Elizabeth Warren fan. I find her loud, abrasive and a liar.” My sense is that any woman who is outspoken is going to get this kind of blowback from men and women. When are people going to wake up to their gender bias?
Just keep on trucking. Just keep on showing up with your quirkyalone spirit.
If you are a quirkyalone, and you’re looking for someone to be your life partner, you may find yourself single for an extended period: months or yearssssss. How do you keep touch, sexuality and sensuality present and alive in your life while you are single? How can we be “wet” when we are single?
To answer these questions, I’m taking a little tiptoe into the world of podcasting with this podcast with the great Carolyn Arnold, a social scientist, educational researcher, and friend. At the age of 58, Carolyn started a 50 Dates project to find her life partner. She found him by date 49! I’ve interviewed Carolyn about what she learned about loving herself while she went through the ups and downs of dating here. What’s interesting about Carolyn too is that she had a lot of lovers while she was looking for love because sex and touch are important to her. She didn’t want to be celibate and she knew she wanted healthy touch in her life.
In this podcast, I interview Carolyn about how to have lovers and have sexuality be present in your life when you are single and looking for a life partner, and don’t want to be celibate. How do you avoid the pitfalls of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, fantasy/illusion (I thought this was the start of something but he never called!), crossed boundaries, doing more than you really want to do, and more. In essence, we’re talking about how to have clear communication before you get busy and have clear access to your yes and your no at all times. We give you some scripts you can use even.
Carolyn is working on a memoir about her 50 First Dates Project, and in this podcast, we talk about what she learned about having having sex and lovers while looking for love. Carolyn has gone to many Northern California alternative relationship and sexuality seminars and she has learned a lot about how to set boundaries and communicate what you want with a partner in open, honest, loving communication. I’ve been on a parallel journey, and so Carolyn and I have often talked over her kitchen table about how to have conversations about sex when you are dating.
Here are some things we talk about in this conversation:
• How to have a conversation about sex before (or while) clothes come off to avoid misunderstandings and disappointment. We give you some scripts you can use to open a conversation about sex. In essence, the conversation starts with the question, “Do we want to be sexual?” Carolyn thinks you can have this conversation before anything happens. I think it’s a little more natural after kissing.
• The “monogamous mindset of dating” (if you start dating and quickly become exclusive, you can get awfully attached when you start having sex, but are you sure this is really the person you want to be with?)
• Being truly at choice in sex at every moment and why this is important to have access to your yes and your no at any moment, and never feel you have to finish what you started (you have to be able to say no so that you can truly say yes)
• What is sex (is it just intercourse, or can we have a more expansive definition that might or might not include intercourse and might feel like what you actually want to do?)
• How to have supportive lovers while you are dating and looking for “the one”
• Menopause and why you might want to keep your sexuality alive during your 40s (based on Carolyn’s experience)
I'm a master life coach who has been working with high-achieving women to help them show up as their most authentic, powerful selves since 2013. I'm also the author of the cult hit book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperSF) and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster). The best way to stay in touch is to sign up for my newsletter, the Sasha Cagen Weeklyish.
Sasha Cagen is the author of the cult favorite Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Her work as an author, life coach for women and entrepreneur has been featured everywhere from NPR and the New York Times to CNN and Vogue.
In her well-loved newsletter going to thousands of women and men who identify with "quirkyalone," Sasha is the voice for people who don't want to settle--in any area of life.
In her coaching practice, Sasha helps smart, successful women (and sensitive, self-aware men) get clear on what they really want and then to achieve their goals while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.