It was a massive pleasure to talk with fellow Rhode Islander Dave Ursillo for his podcast the New Story.
In Dave’s former life, he was, according to his LinkedIn profile, “a political insider, policy nerd and aspiring Presidential speechwriter at governmental offices on state and Federal levels, including the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2008 and for a gubernatorial candidate in 2009.”
Now, like me, he has channeled his energy and concern for a better world into helping others tap into their truest callings. Dave is s a storytelling coach with a thoughtful podcast The New Story about the narratives that shape our time, and a therapist-in-training.
In this provocative conversation (Dave provoked me!), we dug deep into personal stories I haven’t shared in other interviews.
Dave titled the episode “What stigmas and stereotypes cost women” and it’s about that and much more.
We talked about:
–The kind of clients I find myself working with in my coaching practice: I’ve always attracted thoughtful women who don’t want to settle in life or relationships. More generally, I attract women who are asking the question, “What do I really want?” and want to get out of their heads and into their bodies to move beyond the social conditioning that often cuts us short from answering that big question.
–The personal story of how I got sucked into Silicon Valley during my thirties when I cofounded a street fashion startup and then got disillusioned and left the U.S. for Brazil, where I hoped that a more sensual culture would help me reconnect with my authentic self. We also talk about why my time in Silicon Valley was so alienating. I could see the writing on the wall about how social media was going to f#$@ all of us, in particular our ability to connect with ourselves.
–How feeling the drum of samba music in the streets and reconnecting with wildness in culture and nature helped me to cleanse my mind for a minute and feel present and alive
–Going with my body’s instincts vs. ticking off the box of what a professional woman in her thirties was supposed to do next (buy a condo, find a husband, etc., etc.)
–The treasured experience of quirkyalone solitude, and developing a mindful way of being in connection with yourself and others
–Making sense of the word “embodiment”
–How growing up in the Puritanical environment of Rhode Island shaped me and how I have been liberating myself from those influences ever since (and helping others to do the same).
–Coming back to New England as an adult and discovering the pockets of subcultural communities of resistance and aliveness formed in reaction to the dominant repressive culture. Whatever is violence-inducing will produce pockets of safety and community.
–The Scarlet Lettering that persists in our society when a woman seeks to embrace her sexuality and sensuality, and what this kind of rebellion and resistance feels like. I talk about how I help my clients to do that in a safe environment. Safety is a prerequisite to feel pleasure.
–Linguistic interventions of reclamation: How saying the word “pussy” out loud is a big deal for most women and can be a transformative path in and of itself. We talk about my new Turned-On Living group coaching program and how speaking that word has been a challenge for everyone in the group. We also talk about the joy and liberation that awaits us on the other side!
Being on the Dr. Phil show on self-marriage was a wild ride, to say the least
I said, “When I listen to you, I feel tense in my body,” to the conservative man they brought on to be my foil, I fell back on all my somatic coaching training because I was truly at a loss for what to say with all the nonsense coming out of his mouth about people marrying animals!
Sonya and Danni, the two other women who appeared on the show to share their stories are truly spectacular.
Together we helped to show that what at first seems like a weird idea really is not.
With Sonya and Danni, the other two (fabulous) women guests who married themselves, on the Dr. Phil show. Thanks to assistant producer Kalley for the photo. I helped Kalley and her sister Camryn get engaged to themselves after the show!
So excited to share this recently recorded podcast with you…
Christopher and Heather of Virgin.Beauty.Bitch are all about unpacking female stereotypes and creating a space where women are not afraid to be defiantly different. In other words, the hosts of this podcast are right on. This might be the most fun interview I have recorded, ever.
We start with that time in my mid-thirties when I was trying to get serious about being a woman, when expectations mount. I was trying complete the mandates of adulthood.
All that stuff like finding a partner in time to have a child (cue the biological clock ticking), saving to purchase a home, and funding my retirement account.
The time pressure was making me dry, so I decided to escape Silicon Valley and ran away to South America to get WET (aka find myself and happiness again by listening to my body’s desires), despite my quite persistent fears that I might be totally fucking up my life.
The themes of WET are focused on a woman’s journey to rediscover pleasure and joy. Prioritizing joy and pleasure shouldn’t be revolutionary because we should all feel free to seek out a beautiful life for ourselves and a daily experience of enjoyment without shame. But it is indeed revolutionary in a world where women are expected to drop their own needs to put others first and to accomplish certain milestones above all else.
We started off this way, with Christopher asking, “Now Sasha, Wet. It’s the name of your memoir, a story about healing through sensuality. But let’s rewind the story to when sensuality and your body might have been the last place you looked to find personal power. Who was that woman? And what’s on earth happened to her?”
We talk about:
The fear that our lives are not working because we haven’t achieved some arbitrary line of success and all the gears get tripped up. We need WD-40! We need to be lubricated! We need to get WET.
Why a big part of my message is about inspiring women to connect with their bodies and pleasure for their empowerment, and confidence, and to accompany their healing journeys from past trauma
The importance of speaking up for yourself and what you want in bed with your partner–and how that connects to your empowerment in general
What turned-on living means to me (not just sexually)
My take unpacking the archetypes of Beauty, Virgin, and Bitch for women. I am particularly drawn to reclaiming the “bitch” to reclaim anger.
Would love to hear what resonates for you in this podcast.
You can listen at the top of this post, or click here to the podcast on Apple podcasts.
After you listen, leave a comment or send an email!
P.S. If the intimacy of this conversation appeals to you, and you want to be part of similar conversations in your own life, you should absolutely check out my new yearlong group coaching program Turned-On Living 2023. I am curating a small cohort of women and talking with each person to create the group. We start in January for a year of turned-on living. It’s going to be amazing.
Lucy Meggeson who lives across the pond in the UK, who is great and hilarious, and who is definitely my kind of woman (I bet we could be BFFs if we lived in the same city), interviewed me for her new podcast Spinsterhood Reimagined.
Here’s the description: “Are you single, childfree, and tired of the stigma attached to your ‘spinster’ status? Are you actually having an awesome time, loving your life because of the freedoms afforded to you as a result of being alone and not having kids? Or are you not quite there yet? Either way, this is for you.”
Lucy’s mission is to help other women who happen to be single and childfree know their own value, and that their lives are just as meaningful as anyone else’s. Knowing that working with single women has been a focus of my coaching practice, she asked me all kinds of juicy questions. Because she made me feel so comfortable, I told her the truth, the whole truth! I so suggest that you give this one a listen!
Lucy asked about:
The best part of being single, even when it’s not your first choice
How I finally found peace in not becoming a mother, and appreciate my life on its own terms, after years of struggle with that topic
My own relationship history: quirkyalone and quirkytogether. I am known for celebrating singledom but I’ve actually always been pretty relationship-oriented! In this episode we talk about women who want to be quirkyalone, women who have always been in relationship and haven’t paid as much attention to their own needs and desires, and how I help them get clear about what they really want in relationships and life, and live fully.
How I used to be embarrassed to call myself a life coach, but not I’m embarrassed by it anymore now that coaching has grown and gotten more respect, and more people are wising up to the value of hiring a coach
How I draw on tango and physical mindfulness practices like pussywalking to help my clients step into their power at work and in relationships, and become the women they want to be
The power of listening to your body (and developing your sensuality) to make better decisions and change your life
We had so much fun recording this episode, and we hope you enjoy it! Let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to leave Lucy’s podcast a review if you like it.
Here’s a funny little promo Lucy made for the episode. Lucy used to be an audio engineer at the BBC. Can you tell?
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
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.