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!
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.
Alert fellow lovers of exploring body-mind connection!
We talk about getting out of our heads and into our bodies….but why? Why is that important?
On Friday, September 16 at 2 pm, I am giving a keynote address at the Providence, RI Women’s Business Summit with my own answer to that question.
I’ll be talking about “Connecting with Your Body: The Surprising Way to Channel Your Most Brilliant Self.”
Since the pandemic, so many of us are feeling disconnected from our bodies in these long days staring straight ahead at screens… we start to feel lifeless, even trapped in our chairs.
So how can connecting with your body (aka methods such as @p_ssywalking) help with your confidence for a job interview or a dating event? Or figuring out the next move in your career? Or simply to feel alive?
I will be talking about how I use body connection in my own career and personal life and how my clients do too.
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?
The humorist Fran Leibowitz (star of Netflix’s docu-series “Pretend It’s a City”) talked to NPR’s Terry Gross about living alone in New York City during Covid.
Leibowitz said, “Well, it still seems to me to be by far the best choice. I cannot understand how people who do not live alone have stood this last 10 months, because the only upside of having to stay in my apartment is at least there was no one else there. I would find that unbearable, I mean, truly unbearable.”
Ha! When I heard this line on the radio, I glanced around my own apartment to ask myself whether I was happy that there was no one else there. I mean, sure, I love my solitude and all my weird secret single behaviors, with no TV blaring news programs or sports I don’t care about, but I can’t say that I genuinely agreed with Leibowitz that living alone during Covid is the best option—for me. I am not quite the badass Fran L. is, or rather, I’m a different breed of badass.
We all experience living alone and being single differently. Even if we can be OK with being single–or actively enjoy it–living Covid single has been something else. Since I’ve been in transition from Buenos Aires back to the U.S., I’ve done a little bit of everything over the last year: living alone, living with family, in a relationship, and single. I have to say, the transitions were the hardest. Living alone after spending weekends with a partner or living family most of the time was tough. Solitude is a good thing—and there can be too much of a good thing. I missed having people to talk to without setting up a Zoom or dialing the phone.
I was glad to see this news story from the New York Times: A Pandemic is Hard Enough, For Some Being Single Has Made It Harder. The concerns of people who live alone have often been ignored by governments in coronavirus guidelines that unilaterally discourage household mixing—what about all those households of one? For many of us who are single and living alone, the need for human contact can push us to the limit. Some of my single coaching clients have talked about not feeling human, just because they are working on Zoom or email, missing all the serendipitous, everyday fleeting encounters we’d normally have, at the dry cleaners or the office.
Not everyone has access to the New York Times so I will give you a few key nuggets:
“Some who said they were content with being single before the pandemic have nonetheless struggled with what they’re missing in emotional support and even routine physical touch.”
“…while people missed sex, there was more severe pining for nonsexual forms of touch: the day-to-day contact, couch cuddling and hugs — even high-fives — that have been severed off in an age of social distancing.”
“For some, losing nearly a year of searching for a partner is time people didn’t think they could spare…” “That’s especially an issue for those feeling a biological rush to have children.”
This is an especially good Twitter thread to read. A clinical oncology consultant in the UK started a conversation about the dreadfulness of being single during Covid.
I don’t know who wants to hear this, but being single during this pandemic has been downright dreadful.
I’m not taking away from the seriousness of the pandemic. Please take it seriously, but by God has it been hard when you simply don’t have anyone to share time with.
All this time alone has its silver linings. Look at all that time you have to get in shape/learn a new language/get clear about what you really want in a relationship and your life. That’s all true, and I’m all for using our time intentionally, living consciously and deliberately.
And we need to be real about the challenges we are facing. Otherwise we stuff down the emotion in our bodies, and it manifests as pain, illness, stiffness, and get this—fatigue! Is that why Covid has been so tiring?
What about you? How are you living Covid? If you are single, are you savoring the alone time or dying for the time when you can go out dancing or to the gym or to yoga class, or wherever it is that you see people? If you’re in a relationship, do you sometimes wish you were living alone? If you are single and living alone, do you wish you were cohabiting so you had someone to talk with? If you’re single with kids home, how is it going for you?
Let us know in the comments.
I want to remind you that I am a life coach who specializes in working with women and men who identify or aspire to the quirkyalone concept, so if you have quirkyalone tendencies and you are struggling with any of the above (or something else), there’s a good chance that I will “get” you.
Could you benefit from the structure and support of life coaching?
These ladies (representing four countries, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and the U.S.) are showing us the international symbol for pussywalking after attending a pussywalking workshop with Sasha in Buenos Aires.
The next Pussywalking Workshops will be held October 18-20 and November 15-17 at the Tango in Paradise weekends just outside of Buenos Aires — only for those doing the Solo Chica Tango Adventure! Want to come learn pussywalking with me in person? That’s the way in 2019!
Don’t know about pussywalking yet? You have to check out the videos and sign up for the special pussywalking newsletter for further instructions!
Do you want to get some extra confidence walking into a job interview? Do you want to feel happier and energized? Do you want to even know what you want?
“So WTF is Pussywalking?” The hilarious Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan who just launched her own talk show KaamnaLive interviewed me about pussywalking the last time I was in San Francisco.
Pussywalking sounds out there but it’s actually quite simple. It’s a way of being mindful so you are present in every step when you walk and to know exactly who you are and your unique powers as a woman. Pussywalking can help you step out of your shell, walk with a pep in your step and enjoy life to its fullest. Say hi to your new Sensual Self!
Watching this video you will discover:
What exactly is pussywalking
Why I teach women can have additional power in the energy of her pussy, and that energy can be distributed through the body to improve her confidence and overall well-being
How I originally discovered the pussywalking practice on the way to a job interview in San Francisco
The male equivalent: Men can be cocky, women can be pussypowerful.
Our research team in Buenos Aires is working on researching cockwalking.
What is sensuality and why does it matter? Our culture is obsessed with sex. Sex matters of course. But we rarely talk about sensuality. I want to talk about reviving sensuality in the digital age when we are all too often burying our heads in screens.
In this video with Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan on her new Internet talk show Kaamna Live I made sensuality a priority in my life by leaving Silicon Valley for Brazil back in 2010. In this interview I explain why I made sensuality so important for me at a time when my life was going downhill in many ways.
That move led me to Buenos Aires and tango. The search for sensuality continues because as I see it I need sensual fulfillment to be happy, healthy, and in touch with what I want and don’t want. Being in touch with my sensuality actually helps me make decisions and feel more worthy and whole. We get a lot of valuable information from our bodies but we can only feel those pulses of information if we are in touch with our senses.
In this interview we talk about why reviving your sensuality matters for your health and well-being, which celebrities are sensual and which are not, and how you can make playing golf a more sensual experience. Ha. And we should not miss the obvious point: giving focus to sensuality will make you a better lover. As Kaamna so wisely points out in the video: Men, take note!
Does sensuality matter for you? How do you trigger yourself to get out of your head, off the computer or your phone and back into your body? Where do you find sensual delight?
Maya and I had lunch in Buenos Aires and I filled in her on the history of pussywalking — how I discovered it myself on the way to a job interview in downtown San Francisco (that I subsequently nailed, rosy and glowing ;)!) and how I have been teaching it since 2014 in my Tango Adventure workshops and with my clients.
A number of you were kind enough to respond with your willingness to talk with Maya. She spoke with you about your experiences and uncovered a number of diverse benefits from pussywalking…from alleviating back pain to helping actors embody their stage presence…what a difference it makes to walk through life inhabiting our pussies!
Since adults sometimes have trouble having fun and pleasure (especially adult women I have noticed have this problem) I have decided to create a new category for my blog, “The Point of Life is to Enjoy.” With these posts I plan to chronicle what’s fun in my life. I’ll post to encourage myself to seek out fun and pleasure while I encourage you to find it in your own life. Feel free to comment and tell me your fun.
She’s like the wind
There was no hesitation on my part when I saw the ad for an outdoor showing of Dirty Dancing in Buenos Aires. I clicked “going” and invited my Colombian friend Ale. I didn’t know if Ale had ever seen Dirty Dancing but we both dance tango and Dirty Dancing is the ultimate dance transformation movie so I wanted to share it with her. Dirty Dancing came out in 1987. I’m willing to guess that I saw it at least five times when I was a teenager and I’m pretty sure I saw it again at an adult slumber party. It is a classic and must be shared.
The event was Cine in the Garden at Congo Centro Cultural, a salon for music and a jungle garden for movies and other events like around the world in 80s music, or funk, or a jazz sextet. The place is, as they say in Spanish, preciosa, or divina. Modern chic interior that opened to a tropical garden with comfortable wooden benches and a waitress taking food and cocktail orders. I ordered a mojito!
Dirty Dancing surprised me by how much it stood the test of time. The movie is such a physical, sensual movie of awakening. It’s eternally pleasurable to watch Baby go from awkward to confident, playful and sexy when she puts lipstick on while practicing dancing outside by the staff quarters.
Now that I dance tango I see the dance teaching by Patrick Swayze’s character as spot on. His teachings about balance, the frame, and feeling the music as a heartbeat are all transformative lessons of dance.
“Too romantic,” Ale said, wrinkling her nose, but it was very funny. Sexy too. It’s fun to watch the hyper-romanticism of a 17-year-old. Baby is so courageous with her feelings. Inspiring! What if I was that bold with telling a man how I feel in my forties? It’s easy to get scared and guarded as we get older.
I don’t get the feeling that Baby and Johnny will get married but they changed each other’s lives for the better. A short relationship can be life-changing too. The movie’s got the romance, dance, youthful naivete, goofy characters, critique of classism and of sexism, of living without legal abortion. Dirty Dancing, I am prepared to argue, may be the most fun movie ever. Man Dirty Dancing really has it all.
I heartily recommend watching again especially with a big group of other women who cheer when Patrick Swayze says, “Nobody puts baby in the corner.”
Awakening the inner dancer in nature
Touching dance lesson scene
Do you want a big dose of fun and adventure in your life? Whether you come on your own or with a friend, fun is available to you. Check out the Sola Chica Tangasm. That’s my new way of helping you have an amazing transformative experience in Buenos Aires through tango.
Hi! I’m Sasha
Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to live their best lives + do their best work. Author: of Quirkyalone + To-Do List. Forthcoming: WET.
The best way to stay in touch is to sign up for my newsletter. See you in your inbox!
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.