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?
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.
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.
When I talk to my women coaching clients who are 50+, I hear a lot of frustrations about dating. What’s the best dating site to use? Are all the good ones taken? And what about internalized ageism? Is it really too late to find love or is that a story you have been telling yourself based on negative experiences? Does anyone really want to get involved with someone who doesn’t want to shack up together? SPOILER ALERT: Yes! There are plenty of quirkytogethers (or aspiring living-alone-togethers) out there, people who want a committed relationship but not to cohabitate.
This topic of finding love at every life stage (and keeping your sexual spark alive too) is near and dear to my heart because I know it’s not easy but it is possible to find a new mate and feel sexy at every age–I see those stories play out around me in my personal life and with my clients. I also have noticed many women who came to Buenos Aires to study tango with me convinced that no one would find them attractive. I’ve seen those same women get checked out by the men in the milongas with my own two eyes.
The story we tell ourselves about what is possible makes all the difference.
All of this is why I am really excited to invite you to this free online event.
Carolyn, an inveterate social scientist, and definitely a quirky, independent woman, devised an unusual, and highly structured, dating plan to go on 50 first dates to find the right partner for her in her late fifties. Not everyone would want to go on 50 dates–personally that marathon of first dates sounds hellish to ambiverted me!
But I admire Carolyn’s pluck–and the example of resilience she is providing by sharing her story. I’ll be asking her about how she stitched her heart back together after disappointments and rejections.
This event will be a chance to hear about Carolyn’s book, get inspired, and learn about how other women 50+ are faring in the dating scene.
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 that tell you it’s too late, you should definitely come. Yes, it’s great to come to peace with being single, we all need to walk that path to find contentment and joy exactly where we are right now in life. But if love is something you really want, then why give up and deny that? You can register here.
P.S. In reality, everything we are going to talk about will be relevant to people of all ages – so if you are any age and dating or contemplating dating again, you should join us.
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.
I don’t like to invoke pity for the single condition, but let’s get real: being single during the pandemic sucked for many of us. Cats and dogs are not enough. Vibrators are not enough. I’m not even talking about sex. I’m talking about human contact. Single people need hugs, too.
A friend of mine who was single during most of the pandemic talks about being “skin-hungry.”
Here in the U.S., we thought we were on the brink of regaining normalcy. We thought we would be able to leave those masks behind!
We were all mustering up the courage to leave our houses, go out and meet new and old friends.
I danced tango outside at a Providence milonga twice with glee. I was eagerly planning on going to a 100% vax-only milonga in Boston in August. I was filled with emotions: hope, anticipation, fear, overwhelm, but at least I was getting the tango hug back and would get to meet new people after moving back from Argentina.
I got to feel tango bliss again…but was it fleeting?
In the age of the Delta variant dancing cheek to cheek with strangers doesn’t sound like such a solid idea.
Things are changing again! If there is anything we have learned during this pandemic, it’s that we never really know what is around the corner.
Our current situation comes as only fifty percent of the people in the US got vaccinated. When I tell my Argentine and Brazilian friends this fact, they say, WHAT?!
In Buenos Aires people are fighting to get a second dose of Sputnik V, and in the US, millions had their choice of Pfizer or Moderna and said no, or not yet.
Widespread vaccine refusal gave the wildly contagious Delta variant fertile ground to spread in the US as it has in many countries. When a virus spreads it mutates. Delta is a new creature. And it’s a warning sign of future variants to come that could be vaccine-resistant.
Still the vaccinated and unvaccinated are at risk for long-haul Covid, long-term symptoms of fatigue, malaise, pain, brain fog, and difficulty breathing that doctors have not known how to treat.
A lot of people have not read about this new reality. A lot of people don’t enjoy reading the news. Or they are frankly sick of the virus, which I can understand. Or they are living in their own reality bubbles.
There’s no going back to normal. The question is how do we make life–and single life–work in the new normal?
I’ve approached Covid-19 with the idea that I will be safe and find ways to live anyway. Life is short. I take a middle-way approach.
For now, I am avoiding indoor dining, putting on the mask again in stores, and prioritizing one-on-one interactions with vaccinated people (being vaccinated is sexy right now). And yes, why not a modern-day Covid Lysistrata Campaign? Wanna cuddle? Get the shot! The Lysistrata Campaign is an old idea with a new twist. Women (or people) refuse sex with others to end a war. In this case you only have to refuse sex with the unvaccinated so you still have a lot of sexy people to say yes to. If you want to spread that idea, grab the image at the top of this post.
Sadly, there’s going to be fewer tango hugs for a while. But I’m still going on dates, because those are one-on-one interactions. And I’m seeing friends.
I’m getting tested again when I have a doubt. In Rhode Island rapid and PCR testing is free and readily available. Yesterday I had a second date. When I woke up with a sore throat, I scheduled a free test to be sure. Within an hour, the results came back negative, so I could meet this guy without fear. Was the date worth it? Happily, yes.
Home tests available at drugstores are a great option if you want to socialize but don’t want to be a superspreader. Home tests give are also great for those iffy situations when you don’t know if it’s a cold or Covid–or you were just exposed to a lot of unmasked people.
Some people say we will just have to live with Covid as the new flu—but the is a deadly flu leaving 23% of people who get it with chronic fatigue-like symptoms. I have already been there, and done that with chronic fatigue. I spent two years of my life unable to exercise, sometimes unable to pull myself off the couch to cook a meal. I don’t want to repeat that experience. Sometimes people look at me and wonder why I am so passionate about not getting Covid. That’s why.
Still, we have to live, right? We have already spent over a year cooped up inside. That’s not good for anyone’s mental or physical health.
What about you? How are you managing the new, new normal?
A friend told me about YDB. I am not sure of the origin of this wisdom, but it’s too good to not share.
This is for all of you who are struggling with an ex, a break-up, an RO (romantic obsession).
I know how hard it can be to get over people especially when you have opened your heart after it’s been closed for a while–and allowed yourself to believe in love again.
It didn’t work out. And your heart hurts. You can’t believe how long you are thinking about this person and what you once shared.
Here’s what you do. You tap into the power of YDB.
What does YDB mean?
You Dumb Bastard?
Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome? (Yes, this exists on the Internet. It has something to do with Adobe.)
It means YOU DESERVE BETTER!
So go ahead and write the acronym YDB before his or her name in your phone contacts list, if she or he is still in there. Or emblazon YDB before their name in your mind. YDB Mark. YDB Carlos. YDB Francesca. Change their name to YDB-their name for as long as you need to.
Maybe it feels like a leap to believe that there is someone out there for you who will be a better match for you. Well, in the meantime, you also deserve better than torturing yourself with thoughts about someone who doesn’t want to be with you anyway.
Whenever we are trying to change our experience, we are working on changing our thoughts. That process typically doesn’t happen overnight. Choosing new thoughts on purpose is a practice. It’s like going to the gym and lifting weights. The strength to choose new thoughts comes because you are consistently choosing differently.
So whenever that person comes to mind, you repeat YDB.
By brute force we start to believe that new thought.
Put it in your phone or in your journal or on a sticky note on your refrigerator.
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.”
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?
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.
If you read my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics you may remember the section on R.O., or Romantic Obsession. That part of the book was one of the most fun to write, and one of the most emotionally resonant, or so I heard from readers. It turns out that many of us quirkyalones have fallen into our share of R.O.
Here’s an excerpt to jog your memory:
“It’s a little-known fact, but quirkyalones, for all their independence, also have a tendency to be swept away when they get close to love. We are passionate, romantic characters, and that click happens so rarely that the search for a partner can take on the character of a holy grail. If you only meet someone who stirs your interest once every two years, this is bound to be an epic event. If things don’t go according to plan, or even if they do, well, this can be difficult. We sometimes plunge into romantic obsession, or R.O.”
I experienced my first and deepest R.O. 25 years ago when I was in college. So I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on and writing about R.O. (That’s a lot of years!)
Since I know R.O. to be a hidden topic for quirkyalones (because after all we seem so self-assured and confident, so not prone to obsession!) I recorded this unscripted video sharing what I have learned from my own R.O.s and helping others. I called the video the Hidden Messages of Romantic Obsession because many years later, I can see that usually an R.O. masks or distracts us from a deeper issue. It’s never really about the person we are obsessing about–it’s about something else for us to heal.
R.O. is a big topic for many of us so if you have thoughts to share please do so in the comments!
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.