Talking Tinder, Fearlessness, and More at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado

Next week I’ll be going back to Boulder, Colorado to participate in what might be the quirkiest conference in the world. It’s called the Conference on World Affairs, but it’s really a weeklong conference on everything under the sun: the arts, media, science, diplomacy, technology, environment, spirituality, politics, business, medicine, human rights, and so on.

CWA is a community-driven conference. Students and community members of CU-Boulder choose 100 writers, artists, scientists, journalists, businesspeople, and so on to invite for a week. Community members house us and feed us and students drive us around. It’s a percolation of people and ideas. This is the third time that I have been blessed to be invited. . .

This time I will be talking on panels about:

Tinder and Sexting: The Evolution of Dating
Being Fearless in Your Work and Life
Sex: Just Do It (or Not)
The Radical Notion That Women Are People
Hi, Mom and Dad, I Majored in…Now What?
TALK AND PLAY Rhythm and Movement

If you’re quirky and you know it and you live in or around Boulder, I’d love to meet you. Come to one of my panels and introduce yourself.

Quirky gatherings in Wisconsin and San Francisco. Plus MANTACT and the TANGASM.

quirkyalones in Wisconsin

quirkyalones in Wisconsin

I got this fantastic message and wanted to share it with you as inspiration for your local community.

“You have inspired me to spread quirky and unite my hometown. We had give quirkysingles unite for dinner on February 14! My name is Lizz Berry, the one on the right in my photo. I’m from Eau Claire, WI. After a divorce about a year ago I found the Quirkyalone book in the ‘single again’ section at my library. On February 14 I asked one good friend out for dinner, she in turn invited another. We met up for Mexican food and 2 for 1 margaritas! Laughs were had.

I mentioned the concept of quirkyalones and they all related, all of them near early 30s and unmarried, career oriented or travel types. We are having a QuirkySingles open forum discussion on nutrition at the end of March too at a bookstore.

One thing my single friends and I have talked about is why we as single gals only get invited to hang out with women. Sometimes we need man contact too. We’ve started saying, ‘Gosh I just really need some Mantact right now…or I could really use a man hug.’ We have invited several guy friends to the next hangout. Platonic coed singles events are rare in our town.”

Don’t forget I am hosting my own quirky co-ed party tomorrow night (Thursday, March 6) in San Francisco. It’s a private house party where I’ll share my love and knowledge of what’s special about dancing tango in Buenos Aires. The party starts at 7:30 and I will give a brief lecture at 8. We’ll drink wine, listen to tango music, and socialize.

I did an Internet interview about the Quirky Tango Adventure today and we spent a lot of time talking about the “tangasm”! I cannot guarantee you will have a tangasm on the Buenos Aires trip but it is quite likely.

If you want to come to the party and learn what a tangasm IS, then be sure to RSVP to my email and I’ll send you the party info. See you there!

Are you touch-starved? Hugs and tango can help

a tango hug in Buenos Aires

a tango hug in Buenos Aires

Touch-starvation is an epidemic, especially in the U.S. and the U.K.

Are you touch-starved?

Here are some symptoms.

–You might have trouble sleeping through the night.

–Or feel irritable.

–Or depleted.

–Or anxious.

Does this sound familiar? I have certainly experienced all these symptoms when I don’t get enough healthy, affectionate touch.

Here are some fascinating research tidbits from the UC Berkeley positive psychology research center Greater Good on the science of touch:

–“A recent study has found that when librarians pat the hand of a student checking out a book, that student says he or she likes the library more—and is more likely to come back.”

–“Research at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health has found that getting eye contact and a pat on the back from a doctor may boost survival rates of patients with complex diseases.”

–“The U.S. and the UK are particularly touch-deprived. In the 1960s pioneering psychologist Sidney Jourard studied the conversations of friends in different parts of the world as they sat in a café together. . . In England, the two friends touched each other zero times. In the United States, in bursts of enthusiasm, we touched each other twice. . . In France, the number shot up to 110 times per hour. And in Puerto Rico, those friends touched each other 180 times!”

A dearth of touch in our lives can leave us anxious. Unsettled. And insomniac. I’ve certainly experienced terrible insomnia during long periods of singlehood, and when I get more touch, my sleep improves.

So how do we address a lack of healthy, affectionate touch in our lives? We don’t need to hire a professional cuddler. Yes, professional cuddling services exist in our touch-starved society, a sign of how desperate we have become in our hurtling-toward-Her digital society.

Here are a number of ways to address touch starvation, no matter what your relationship status:

–Hugs with friends or family can do the trick. Hug for twenty seconds. At twenty seconds, we release oxytocin, the hormone of well-being and bliss.

–Simply make yourself more available for giving and receiving a friendly pat on the back with friends or family, or snuggling while watching TV.

–Create a non-sexual cuddle buddy relationship. You might be surprised by how twenty minutes of snuggling affects you.

–You can even go to a cuddle party (I have attended TWO cuddle parties, and I will be writing about that in another post).

–It’s never a bad idea to get a massage.

–Dance tango. Research has found that weekly tango lessons can alleviates stress, anxiety and/or depression even more than a meditation mindfulness practice. I love the idea of meditation, but it’s never struck me as very pleasurable. Tango is pleasurable.

I’ve experienced a dramatic health and mood change after I started tango in 2010. Before I discovered tango, being single would leave me with not enough touch in my life. After I started dancing tango, my terrible insomnia that had started at age 30 improved. I could sleep through the night and wake up pleasurably after a night of dancing. I’ll be honest. In my first weeks of dancing tango, I exclaimed to a friend, “I think this might be better than sex!” Pleasure cells has been woken up all over my body. I floated down to breakfast feeling like a different person.

A dance of hugging and walking
Why did tango make such a profound impact? Tango is a dance based on hugging and walking. Hugging for 20 seconds or longer increases oxytocin (the cuddle hormone of well-being and bliss) and slows the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, especially in women. This banishes stress. When you dance tango for a night, you hug for far longer than 20 seconds. It might be an hour or 90 minutes cumulative over a night of dancing, so you can just imagine what that much oxytocin can do for your well-being. We’re talking tangasm. Yes, it can be that good.

I share all this with you for a few reasons. One, to encourage you to increase affectionate touch in your life. Two, to give you some context for why I love to spread tango with people who are not already part of this dance. I believe that tango is truly life-changing and life-affirming. This dance can give you such a dose of affectionate touch and love outside of a romantic relationship. For those of us in touch-starved countries like the U.S. and the UK, we desperately need hugs and affectionate touch to keep us balanced, happy, and sane.

Join Us for the Next Tangasm Adventure
sasha_tango_photo_tangasm4
Up your hug quotient, and your happiness level, with us in Buenos Aires! Join us for the next 7-day Tangasm Adventure!

10 Quirky Book and Movie Characters to Inspire You

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I’m always looking for a good novel or movie. There is nothing better than cozying up in bed with a book or movie with a quirky character to make me smile. (Right about now I am on overdose with dark characters in House of Cards. So let’s look at quirky in a lighter way.) I was inspired to make a list of quirky book and movie characters when the ebook publisher Open Road contacted me and wanted to create an ad campaign based on the quirky characters in their ebooks. I loved their idea, check out their list and you might even discover a new hero/ine.

I decided to make my own list of quirky and quirkyalone characters in books, TV shows and movies. What do we mean by a quirky character? Different from the ordinary in a way that excites curiosity is a starting point. A quiet renegade. Someone who does it his or her own way and shows us something we can learn from.

I polled my fans and friends on social media and referred back to my research. I present you with this list of characters–add your suggestions as a comment please and let the list grow!

1) Alma Whittaker from Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book The Signature of All Things: A Novel

2) Willow from Buffy (early Willow)

3) Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye

4) The incomparable Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice

5) Ray Smith in Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums

6) David in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room

7) Sarah Nour El-Din of the ravishing novel, I, The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters

8) Radagast the Brown from Tolkien’s world

9) Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter saga.

10) Yentl in The Barbra Streisand film Yentl.

Bonus characters: Amelie in Amelie!, Anton from Summer of the German Solider, Poppy in Mike Leigh’s film Happy-Go-Lucky, Annie-Marie Pugh in Very Annie Mary, Phillip Seymour Hoffman in most roles (RIP), Mark Reynolds in the TV sitcom Don’t Trust the B____ in Apt. 23 (watch this show for serious hilarity), all Joan Didion (White Album, Slouching Towards Bethlehem): “That sense of having a little distance from the goings on around you. Like Didion, the QA is often the best observer of the machinations of society.”

Let’s hear yours! Add your favorite quirky characters here as a comment.

P.S. Welcome to all of you who joined us last week on International Quirkyalone Day! 🙂

Global Quirkyalone Day Party on February 14: Are You In?

happyIQDcard

This year is the tenth anniversary of the publication of my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. I have been so touched by all the deep connections, sharing, friendships and relationships that have been created by the movement associated with this book. Most of all, it moves me when they tell me Quirkyalone gave them a new sense of self-respect.

International Quirkyalone Day is coming up on February 14 and I want to make it a special one for the tenth anniversary. 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. International Quirkyalone Day is not anti-Valentine’s Day. It’s NOT a pity party for single people. It’s an alternative–a feel-good alternative to the marketing barrage of Valentine’s Day and an antidote to the silicone version of love presented in shows such as The Bachelor. IQD has been celebrated locally by people in over 40 cities around the world.

I posted on the Quirkyalone Facebook page asking people for ideas for how to celebrate. German QA Andreas, a graduate of GetQuirky, came up with a great idea to celebrate Quirkyalone Day GLOBALLY.

Andreas’ idea is inspired by Ringo Starr, who asked people around the world to say “peace and love” on his birthday at the same moment in 2010.

Let’s throw a global shout-out party at noon on Quirkyalone Day (February 14)
At noon on February 14, wherever you are in the world, say, “Happy Quirkyalone Day.”

Let’s spread the message of quirkyalone peace and self-love to appreciate ourselves and this moment.

February 14 at noon . . . on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or wherever you hang out online. . .

Post:
–A photo of you with a piece of paper wishing people Happy Quirkyalone Day.

–A video of you wishing friends Happy Quirkyalone Day, share what Quirkyalone Day means for you and/or how you are going to celebrate.

–Say hello, and happy February 14, happy IQD!

–Share quirky cat videos from YouTube.

–However you want to express yourself. Be quirky! Your choice!

This is your Quirkyalone Day gift to the world to turn them on to the possibility of more self-love and self-confidence single or partnered.

Are you in?
–When you post on Facebook on February 14 at noon, tag “Quirkyalone” so your greetings show up on the Quirkyalone page.

–On Twitter, use hashtag #happyquirkyaloneday.

Let’s do a global movement of quirkyalone peace and love!

JOIN the event (party) here on Facebook.

Can’t wait to see your greetings at noon February 14!

See you in Buenos Aires for the QuirkySexy Tango Adventure

quirkysexytangotrip1

How is your 2014 going?

Would you like to dance?

I hereby invite you to join me for an for an intimate immersion experience into tango, quirkyalone, and quirkytogether in Buenos Aires this May. The Quirky Sexy Tango Adventure is a unique opportunity to travel to gorgeous Buenos Aires and learn tango at its source. You also get to learn about tango as a metaphor for personal growth as a quirkyalone and quirkytogether.

I love bringing together my love for tango with the lessons that tango has to teach us for our personal growth and relationships, and I’m thrilled to do that with you in this 6-day adventure in late May!

This is for you if:
* you love the idea of going on an international adventure with fellow quirky lovers of life
* you love the idea of learning tango at the source, where you can FEEL the essence of tango, which is the embrace (tango is essentially a dance of hugging and walking)

The QuirkySexy Tango retreat will include:
* Tango instruction (you can be a total beginner)
* Workshops on quirkytogether and tango (how tango can help you to connect to yourself and another in a relationship)
* Outings to traditional, elegant milongas, and young, alternative milongas (milongas are where people dance tango)

The details are here, and registration will open very soon.

If you want in, put this on your calendar and sign up for this special mailing list. Space will be extremely limited and I’ll offer spaces first to the people on the special list.

P.S. I got the energy and inspiration to manifest this dream by using the tools that I teach in GetQuirky where I listen to the things that really call to me and give me the most energy in life. If you want to get in touch with *your* spark for 2014, and get support and a structure for accountability for making your dreams happen, then join us for the GetQuirky New Year’s Edition class starting next Monday January 13. It’s an online class so you can take it from anywhere.

For some extra fun, I’m adding a little contest. There will be a raffle and if you are part of this special New Year’s class, you get the chance win a FREE 1-hour coaching session with me. I will be drawing one lucky winner during the class kickoff Monday January 13. Click here to get the details and sign up.

P.P.S. Feel free to hit reply with questions about Tango Adventure or the GetQuirky online class.

Quirky People: A Global Report

Quirky People: A Global Report

Quirky People: A Global Report

Who are the people who make up the quirkycommunity–those of you who have signed up to be part of this quirkyconsciousness? I wanted to get to know you better so I sent out an email two weeks ago asking, “What’s up with you? What are you working on and what are you excited about?” I loved getting all the replies and I am excited to share them with you. So many stories playing out simultaneously.

Everyone who responded shared a quality of reflection about their lives. Whether things are going great or things are tough, the people who responded are really thinking about their lives and how to live them best–and that’s one thing I appreciate about people who identify with quirky. They challenge assumptions and want to make the most of their lives.

In this global report on quirky people, we have people reporting in from India, El Salvador, Guatemala, England, Australia, Brazil, the U.S. We have single and married, “young” and “old.” We have a woman considering becoming a single mother, an 18-year-old lifelong quirkyalone, and a woman in her sixties who just found romantic love again. We have a burgeoning quirkyslut and budding quirkytogethers. A stay-at-home mother who never thought she would take that path. We have people recovering from illiness and people struggling to find their quirk again. We have writers, crafters, entrepreneurs, healthcare workers, and changemakers.

Read on for these snapshots of real life. They make my heart burst with their humanity and I hope they do the same for you.

Kavita in Mumbai, India, writes, “I am currently looking at figuring what I want to do with my life. What kind of commitments do I want? The question of security: Does it mean I get married or have kids? Where does my career go? How do we chart this road? I am standing on Weird Mountain of life, at the moment. I just started dating a boy and it feels pretty mature. We are good to each other, respectful of each others’ space, have fun. Today seems a bit tough to me after an intense conversation last night. It spun me into me having to deal with my personal issues of self-esteem and confidence and a growing dread that I will sabotage the whole relationship. I need to be working on how to deal with the ‘scared-to-shit’ bits of me. I am pretty brave…usually. Maybe not today.”

Gavin in Sydney, Australia writes, “I’m a Sydney-based feature writer but I’ve been wanting to do spoken-word performance poetry. So, I’ve been putting together some poems. Can’t wait to get up in front of a crowd! For the past few years I’ve been trying to work out what sort of relationship I want. Recently I’ve been looking for the type of relationship that is committed and exclusive but you never actually live together: LAT (Living Apart Together). I think LAT has a great mix of quirkyalone and quirkytogether. So, I’m keen to explore this more. It would be great if your blog covered LAT more.”

Sasha responds: “Yup, I will definitely be writing about LAT more. Creating the kind of relationship you want is something that we explore in the Quirkytogether 101 online class and I will cover it in the Quirkytogether book I’m planning to write in the next couple years.Read More

The Quirky Movement is Growing (CA, FL, PA, and Near You Soon)

It’s great to be back in quirky-movement-building mode in a new way teaching these classes GetQuirky and Quirkytogether 101. An energy builds within the class and then there are ripple effects as “graduates” take this quirky-positive spirit out into the world.

Here are two awesome things that two women from our recent quirkytogether class are doing and one event I’ll be participating in this weekend in California:

— First off, I’ll be speaking on a panel at Litquake this Sunday in Palo Alto. Litquake is San Francisco’s legendary literary festival. There will be talks with authors like Daniel Handler, Jane Smiley, and Andrew Sean Greer and I’ll be on a panel called “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Finding Your Way in the New Sex and Romance Landscape” representing this quirkys (alones and togethers)! It’s all free! Check out this Facebook page for the event and see you in Palo Alto.

— Over there in Gainesville, Florida, Barbara is organizing a MeetUp group for quirkyalones and quirkytogethers. Her vision: “to create a community of like-minded people that enjoy and thrive in being single while at the same time remain open to a partnership with a mutually independent and quirky person.” Check out Barbara’s QA/QT MeetUp group here. If you live near Gainesville, join her. If you don’t live in Gainesville, let this be an inspiration to create your own group on MeetUp.
I may even create a meetup group here in the Bay Area. Stay tuned!

— In both of my online classes: GetQuirky and Quirkytogether 101 we identify and celebrate our quirks. Katie who was in the QT101 class wants a practice to keep embracing her quirks. . . so she is doing #30daysofquirks on Twitter. She tweets out one quirk a day. By quirk, we mean something special and unique to you, and maybe even something that you have not celebrated about yourself. My favorite one of Katie’s quirks so far is: “I am absolutely fascinated with asparagus pee. Kind of gross, but always a surprise. ALWAYS. #30daysofquirks #quirkyalone”
Follow Katie at @bohemianonrye here.

Thanks for staying connected and for being part of our movement!

With love,
Sasha Cagen

P.S. GetQuirky, 21 days to celebrate the quirky in you, will be open for registration in a few short weeks.

Valerie Bosselait, a small business owner in Amherst, Massachusetts, who participated in the beta GetQuirky describes what she got out of it: “No matter what your age or gender, GetQuirky is an interactive and very real experience that will surprise and enrich you. Sasha unflinchingly shares her own life experience, and is a knowing and kind guide who will suggest a direction but point you towards making your own choices.

GetQuirky helped me get to a place where I could begin to love myself, flaws, fears, and all. During the course I noticed, as I went about doing all the things necessary to keep life on track, that I had a bouncier step. Instead of being merely “efficient,” I became happier in the world.”

For more information on GetQuirky and to sign up for updates, click HERE.

How to Actually Start Loving Yourself. . . Part One: Write a Love Letter to Yourself

time to love yourself up

time to love yourself up

Everyone talks about loving yourself. But actually, truly loving yourself is a pretty big deal. And it takes practice. So today I am challenging you to write a love letter to yourself. Yes, you! The one who is reading this blog post, you!

To help, I’m sharing with you an exercise that we do in both of my quirkycourses: GetQuirky and Quirkytogether 101. This is part one. In a future post, I’ll share another practice that I have found that works to cultivate self-love.

Why? We live in a world where self-criticism is a way of life, constant background noise in our minds. We spend so much more time thinking about things to fix about ourselves. In a world filled with self-help, where does this endless quest to be better ever end?

We rarely stop to celebrate ourselves as the incredible creatures we are.

It’s an inside job.
We may think the salvation lies in finding just the right person to love us. We dream of a great romantic relationship, or when we are already in one, we dream of feeling totally accepted and adored. Of being seen and loved just for who we are.

If we dream of that but never give it to ourselves, it just won’t work. Every relationship unravels if we don’t truly stand for our own value. We just can’t expect that someone to do that for us.

Although people help us to see ourselves by loving and appreciating us, no one else can give us our value. It’s an impossible job for someone else to do that–because it’s an inside job.

Consider this: Every day, we are training other people about how to treat us. If we show up habitually putting ourselves down, we are training other people to devalue us. When we show up knowing our value, we train people to treat us as valuable too.Read More