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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the edited list:

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

Do any of these sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating 20 years of the Quirkyalone Movement on Zoom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You will get the Zoom info over email.

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

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

I can’t wait to see you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to reclaim January 6.

Bringing embodiment and self-love to the masses on the Dr. Phil show on self-marriage (!)

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.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for the juicy stories that are yet to come about how this came to be.

If you are interested in marrying yourself with guidance and support, you can  join the next cohort of my group coaching program Turned-On Living, where you get to enter into the process with the support of other women on the self-love journey.

And… let me know what you thought about the show!

Would love to hear any and all reactions! With a caveat: no hate tolerated. Any nasty comments on this blog post will be deleted.

PS  August 16, 2023: The YouTube account that hosted the full episode got deleted. I’ll look for another recording. To get the full story, read this account published in November 7, 2023, “The True Story of My (Ill-Advised?) Decision to Appear on the Dr. Phil Show.”

 

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!

Dating Advice From My Spirit Animal Jonathan Van Ness

Life is feeling a bit overwhelming lately, and so in today’s newsletter, I decided to go light with this dollop of joy and enlightenment from my spirit animal Jonathan Van Ness, author of Love That Story, and star of Queer Eye and host of Getting Curious.

There are a lot of reasons to love Jonathan, but I think one thing I admire most is his unabashed enthusiasm. He often sounds like a nine-year-old girl getting super excited about something he truly believes in, and that is such an attractive quality in an adult.

Drew Barrymore asked JVN (as he is known), “What is your advice for people who are actively dating?”

And by the way, this is excellent advice for life, and work, as well as dating.

JVN: “Even if you are looking to be in relationship with someone, we always are going to come back to our relationships with ourselves.

In yoga this one time we learned, we all learned that we all have this invisible magnet inside of us that is positively or negatively charged, you know. I think when you are working on yourself, it’s going to charge that magnet in such a way that the person you are meant to be with is going to vibe towards you anyway, so you really can’t lose by investing in yourself and your relationship with yourself anyway.”

Drew: “This is why I asked you this question!”

Free Downloadable Quirkyalone Valentines to Inspire Self-Love. Come and get ’em! :)

Happy early Quirkyalone Day!

In case you didn’t know (you may have been conditioned to believe that there’s only one holiday on February 14), Quirkyalone Day is coming up.

International Quirkyalone Day is a do-it-yourself celebration of romance, friendship, and independent spirit. It’s a celebration of all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and yes, self-love.

It’s also a day for quirkytogethers to celebrate their love in freeing, unique and non-cliché ways.

Quirkyalone Day has been going strong since 2003. Learn more about Quirkyalone Day here.

Today I am delighted to share these free printable Quirkyalone Valentines which you can send to your favorites in the mail, or by email, Whatsapp or text. 

Download them here!

These cards are so fun because you can print them out on paper or cardstock, then personalize them for all your loved ones.

To make it easy, you can then snap a picture and send the card by text, Whatsapp, or email. WHAT?! So much fun. I already did it and I totally think you should too.

You can download and print these Quirkyalone Valentines as many times as you would like.

There’s no limit to the number of Quirkyalone soul mates you can have in your life or the number of cards you can send.

Here’s the link again…

xo

Sasha + Liz

P.S. These cards were designed by my long-time San Francisco pal Liz Worthy. Check out the uber-talented quirkyalone/quirkytogether Liz Worthy’s work at her online shop and follow her on Instagram.

Feeling lonely this holiday season? Watch this…


Last weekend five of us who write about being single (when we actually do want relationships too) and/or about managing the experience of being childless or childfree gathered for a very honest live Zoom conversation.

If you are feeling lonely and/or sad, disappointed, or frustrated right now because you don’t have someone to share holiday cooking with, to kiss under the mistletoe, or at midnight on New Year’s Eve, I absolutely recommend you watch the replay.

As a veteran in this conversation since 2000 when I first introduced my new word “quirkyalone” in a personal essay, I found it fascinating and wonderful to be part of a group of kick-ass, smart, funny women who have taken a leadership role in helping single women lives their lives fully, with a partner or without. It was lonely to be a quirkyalone advocate on my own for all those years so I loved the group energy!

* Jody Day, the genius and revolutionary founder of Gateway Women, which helps women who are childless by infertility or circumstance, organized the online event and led us through an insightful conversation about how we have learned to source our own worth from ourselves, and how to keep our spirits up when spending a holiday alone.

* Shani Silver, who recently published A Single Revolution, read a passage about how to turn around the soul-sucking energy of comparison. When we are looking at people who have what we want, we tend to wonder, Why does she have the boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife and I don’t? Shani invited us to all consider that we are just as worthy to get what we want too.

* Nicola Slawson who is based in the UK and writes the Single Supplement newsletter talked about how she has embraced celebrating with her own Christmas tree, which we got to see.

* Yael Wolfe, a writer, photographer, and artist, talked about how she moved on from a devastating break-up with a man who went on to choose a younger woman to realize that a relationship is the icing on the cake of her life, and not her life itself.

* I talked about the value of learning how to say no during the holidays to invitations that don’t feel good. The inability to say no absolutely contributes to chronic pain and fatigue–if you are a people-pleaser, learning to say no with grace is one of the best skills you can learn for your health and vitality.

Gateway Women Masterclass: Revolutionizing Your Single Holidays from Jody Day on Vimeo.

I definitely recommend you to watch this conversation on one of these these cold winter nights — or one of these hot nights if you are living in the southern hemisphere.

If that video doesn’t completely resolve your feelings of loneliness during the holidays by giving you a feeling of solidarity from others who are living outside the box, then watch this SNL Lonely Christmas sketch too!

PS. The New Year brings a time of new energy. My coaching practice is almost full but a couple spaces will open up in January. If you want to be in conversation about getting support to pursue your goals in 2022, whatever they may be, tell me more in this form.

A Heart That Loves Itself Cannot Be Broken. Is This True?

a self-love poster spotted on Providence’s not-so-mean streets

I spotted this philosophical poster on my way across the street to walk underneath the changing trees of fall.

“A heart that loves itself cannot broken.”

First let me say that I love these mysterious people who are stapling self-love posters to telephone poles. Their intent to spread the message of self-compassion could not be more admirable. Their tactile work is so much more satisfying and human to take in than another inspirational quote on Instagram.

My heart swelled reading their message. But my critical mind could not stop there.

“But is this true?” I stopped to ask myself, before crossing the street to walk through the park. “Is it really true that a heart that loves itself cannot be broken?”

the first blush of fall on that walk

My heart got broken this year in a way that it had not been broken in years. There were nights when I woke up at 4 am and felt like a meteor had landed in my heart, leaving a charred crater in its wake. The despair of that break-up left my heart jagged and in pieces.

Did that mean that I don’t love myself? Or did that mean I was allowing myself to feel?

I thought about that lovely poster on my walk through the trees.

Here’s how I would amend the text if I were to make it feel true to me.

“A heart that loves itself cannot be permanently broken.”

“A heart that loves itself heals more quickly after heartbreak.”

“A heart that loves itself will not lose itself in grief for years.”

“A heart that loves itself will grow more resilient to love again.”

When I was going through the worst of this heartbreak, someone told me it was a good sign that my heart hurt so deeply. Being more heartbroken than ever, he said, meant I had opened up to love, and the hurt would only lead my heart to grow back stronger. I took solace in the idea that heartbreak could only grow my capacity to love.

Here is what I know for sure by now: Heartbreak is unavoidable. Loss is the flaw in love. Many of our attempts at romantic relationships do not work out over the long-term. Even superficial online dating attempts can break your heart, slowly over time, little by little, cut by cut. Horrible people will be elected as our leaders. People will disappoint us. Our friends and lovers and family will pass away.

There is always going to be heartbreak and disappointment.

The best we can hope for is that our hearts break and then grow back stronger. Self-love comes when we stop blaming ourselves. The key to healing your heart is taking out the thorn of self-blame.

Healing is a shift in perspective. A shift of knowing that you are lovable and life can be good even after devastation. Cue the song, “I Will Survive.” Seriously, if you are going through a heartbreak right now, play that song on YouTube and dance to it. We need to feel the feelings and let them move through us, through journaling, talking with a trusted friend, coach or therapist, dancing, walking, or whatever works best for you to alchemize the pain.

It’s not inevitable that a heart grows back stronger. A heart can also break and not stitch back together. A heart can grow bitter, jaded, shriveled, and resigned, which happens all the time.

Many, many people give up on love and their dreams all the time. It’s a miracle to keep going and to be at peace with your life as it is right now.

It takes a strong heart to keep on beating. A heart that loves itself.

P.S. In a little over two weeks, on Thursday November 4, at 8 pm ET (NYC time), I am going to interview my dear friend Carolyn Arnold about her new memoir Fifty First Dates after Fifty. This is a free online event to celebrate the launch of Carolyn’s book. We would love for you to join us.

Carolyn, an inveterate social scientist, and definitely a quirky, independent woman, devised an unusual dating plan to go on fifty first dates to find the right partner for her. I’ll be asking her about how she stitched her heart back together after disappointments and rejections.

Once you have been slammed a number of times in dating, how can you stay positive and keep going? You can read this interview I did with Carolyn way back in 2012 to get a taste for what we will be talking about.

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 thinking it’s too late, you should definitely come. You can register here.

What Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum Has to Teach All of Us About Dating

If you are looking for something to watch, I suggest Love on the Spectrum, an Australian docu-series on Netflix about autistic people on their dating journeys.

It’s light, entertaining, and uplifting. Plus, the people they are following have a lot to teach all of us, including neurotypical people, about how to be emotionally brave in dating.

Love on the Spectrum is the best dating show because the people are so incredibly real. They say things like this, “I feel very warm, appreciated, and comfortable with you. How would you like to go out with me on a third date?” I loved it when one of them said he would never want to be on The Bachelor because he wouldn’t get to be himself.

Dating is tough enough for everyone, but it is has got to be tougher for autistic people who face stigma and tend to find social interactions challenging. What I love about the people on the show is their honesty. No pretending, no facade. What you see is what you get.

When it comes to love, their sincerity is so refreshing. They get hurt and disappointed, but they don’t get jaded and they don’t give up. One of the most important qualities to cultivate when you are dating is resilience. They also have parents who really support their self-love.

Lovely Michael is not afraid to say, “I’m on a quest to find true love.” How many of us are willing to say that out loud?

Another great line comes from 22-year-old Teo, who said, “I get so nervous about… what if I die alone?” Who says that on a date?

They bring gifts on first dates. They take it slow. They ask permission to hug or hold hands. Their courtships are so quaint and lovely compared to the hot mess of the dating-app world.

The people on the show get advice from Jodi Rodgers, relationship specialist for autistic people, who teaches them how to ask questions and listen to the answers.

Since the dating apps have come to dominate the ways we meet, almost everyone today needs a rudimentary course on how to date today because phone-based apps like Tinder and Hinge have shaped many people’s behaviors to be downright rude and bizarre.

I suspect the producers are heavily coaching them to say how they really feel on their dates, or they are just the most authentic people ever. I have never seen modern-day people be more open confessing their feelings. “I’m into you–how do you feel about me?”

Someone has to be brave enough to ask that question first. Telling someone else how you feel on a date equals MAJOR LIFE SKILL.

The people on the show are young, in their twenties and early thirties. I would like to see the show follow older people on the spectrum in their dating journeys too and to hear about how their relationships have gone.

The bottom-line message from the show is: Be yourself. Be brave.

Always good advice in dating and life.

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I have one spot open at the moment in my coaching practice. If you have been curious about working with me and waiting to reach out, now may be the time. You can tell me more about what you want to explore or work on through coaching here.