A Personal Response to Glynnis MacNicol’s Essay, “Men Fear Me, Society Shames Me, and I Love My Life”–and a special offer

Bold headline!

A few of my wonderful newsletter subscribers sent me this New York Times op-ed  over the weekend, so I want to pass it along to you. This piece Men Fear Me, Society Shames Me, and I Love My Life by the memoirist Glynnis MacNicol is a great read for anyone who identifies as a “quirkyalone.”

Glynnis MacNicol published No One Tells You This, and is soon releasing I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself about her choice to move to Paris for sixteen months to pursue pleasure and connection after the pandemic. Some themes sound similar to the ground I am covering in Wet! I am looking forward to reading it!

Glynnis wrote this op-ed on the brink of turning 50. She writes about daring to enjoy her life, even though she hasn’t achieved the milestones of adulthood that everyone tells us are crucial to living a fulfilling life: getting married and having children. 

She writes, “It’s not just in enjoying my age that I’m defying expectations. It’s that I’ve exempted myself from the central things we’re told give a woman’s life meaning — partnership and parenting. I’ve discovered that despite all the warnings, I regret none of those choices.”

What a bold headline and a refreshing stance of clarity! It’s tough for me, or any person, to honestly say that she has zero regrets in life. Come on. But the certainty feels like a useful corrective to the many voices that insinuate or directly tell us that we will regret our life choices if we are not partnered or don’t have kids.

Readers are calling Glynnis a hedonist in the comments. I found their criticism fascinating. Since when is taking an active interest in your own life satisfaction “selfish”? If you don’t look into what gives you pleasure and what makes you fulfilled, who else is going to do it for you?! Are we all supposed to be martyrs?

Glynnis’ piece led me to think–damn, I want to write a piece about being single at 50 too! Her publication of this essay lit a fire under me. It also led me reflect that actively enjoying your life as a single woman at 50 doesn’t just happen. We live in a society that devalues older people. I  regard my own life with some surprise at how joyful and meaningful it is. I also look at photos of myself when I was 35 and think I look younger now. I’m less worried than I was back then.

Specific choices made this sense of confidence possible for me. To wit: I chose to ignore the societal messaging that tells us it’s all over after 40, that no one wants us, that we are not valuable. I also chose to unlearn that conditioning, and infuse myself with other ideas about the value of wisdom and experience that makes me even sexier and more interesting.

I chose to put myself around encouraging, inspiring people who helped me walk this unconventional path, and to spend time in places like Buenos Aires, a culture where people of all ages go out to enjoy themselves at night. I subscribe to Instagram accounts like ageismisneverinstyle to give myself a boost. Fly Ageless is also fun.

I chose to invest in my own sexual energy as life force energy with all the classes that have made this a focus of my coaching practice, to value my own life path, even though it’s very different from most other people’s, and to prioritize my own pleasure (broadly defined).

Were these choices “selfish”? Or have they made me more resourced to help others? A person who enjoys their life can typically be more helpful than someone who is miserable.

As I sat with this piece, I felt inspired to do something new with you, my newsletter subscribers. (If you are reading this online, this spontaneity is an incentive to become a newsletter subscriber. You never know what will come to your email inbox when you do!)

Thousands of you get my newsletter. Some of you have become coaching clients, taken a class, or come to Buenos Aires to learn tango with me. And there are so many of you I don’t know yet. 

I want to help more of you live turned-on lives regardless of your age. 

I am giving away 3 45-minute FREE “It’s Not Over Yet” coaching sessions to the next three people who reach out and fill out this form in the next 48 hours. 

Fill out this form by Friday at noon to be eligible for one of these three lucky spots. Tell me about you and what you would want to focus on.

If you “win” (who doesn’t like “winning”?”) you will get a chance to talk with me as a sounding board to get clear about what you want to live at this stage of your life, uninhibited by what other people think is possible.

Getting clear is the first step! When you know what you want, you can let it unfold.

We will also discover action steps for you to take after our call. People typically say they feel motivated to take action after they talk with me.

We may take a body-centered transformation approach if that speaks to you. You may get a personalized pussywalking lesson to help you connect with your body’s wisdom. I am a champion at teaching pussywalking because I invented it! It’s the second word I have formally invented, after “quirkyalone.” 

Fill out this form in the next 48 hours by noon, Friday, May 31, and you might “WIN” as one of the three lucky spots. 

Looking forward to meeting the lucky three of you!!! I will be lucky too 🙂

xo,

Sasha

 

Helping two young women marry themselves on the Dr. Phil show – a life highlight!

Going on the Dr. Phil show on self-marriage as a guest expert earlier this year in February was what I would call a VERY mixed experience–you’ll get to read all the juicy details in an essay to be published soon in this space. If you are not on my newsletter list already, be sure to sign up to get that post!

But there were some wonderful moments that need to be remembered for the history (herstory?) books.

One of the best parts, for sure, was getting the chance to officiate a self-marriage ceremony on national TV, on a show that reaches two million people per episode. After all the other shenanigans happened on stage (again, stay tuned for the essay), the producers led me backstage where they had actually created quite a sweet space with flowers for a self-wedding.

Who was getting married?  After I got to LA, the producer called me and told me that Kalley Sullivan, the assistant producer, wanted to marry herself on the show, and her sister Camryn, a mental health influencer (and survivor) who runs this YouTube account focused on suicide prevention, also wanted to commit to love herself in a ceremony. They had been so inspired by the conversations with me and the other two women featured on the show, Danni Adams (@amapoundcake) and Sonya Police, that they too wanted to take this bold step, in their early twenties. Way to go Generation Z!

They asked me to officiate the ceremony since I have been helping women to marry themselves for years.

Take a look at the video above to sneak a peak. I love what Camryn says about giving no one else credit for her own growth. The journey of self-care and learning to love oneself is a social one. People help us along the way–friends, therapists, coaches, authors, parents, and so on. We can’t do this life thing on our own. But ultimately we choose to care for ourselves, and we need to give ourselves credit. Especially if life has thrown tough obstacles in our way, such as trauma or severe depression.

I’m sharing this video clip now because I’m especially inspired by the vibes of self-marriage by the Zoom call we just had yesterday afternoon in this year’s Turned-On Living program, the yearlong small group coaching program that I am running that brings together women who have the shared goal of living a turned-on life.

In November, the women who are part of this year’s 2023 Turned-On Living cohort will come to Providence and we will do their own unique self-marriage ceremonies in the woods as part of our weekend retreat to bond in person. Each woman is designing her own ceremony, and we will all witness each other’s vows. I absolutely love it. It’s so fun because everyone gets to be creative together.

If you are curious about marrying (or committing to) yourself but you don’t know who would get you or support you in this journey, check out being part of the 2024 cohort for Turned-On Living. 

Self-marriage is an individual journey but it flourishes with group support, being seen, being known, and being witnessed by others who get it.

A podcast about listening to the body to make big life decisions, overcoming New England Puritanism, and more

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!

–Pussywalking, of course! And the difficult challenge of inserting the word “pussywalking” when I appeared on the Dr. Phil show on self-marriage in February (what a lost opportunity!). LOL. LOL. LOL.

–The need for a new word to connote strength in women. Don’t say we have balls when we are brave! What’s so strong about “balls” anyway? Ovaries is not going to work either, so what is it?

–Learning how to ask for what you want is about learning how to generate magic in the world

–Learning how to be your own best friend, and how this is a universal journey for all of us: men, women, and non-binary folks.

This was such a fun and lively conversation.

We both enjoyed it, and we hope you do too.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

And if you have a new word to suggest to connote female strength that comes from our sexual anatomy, we are all ears! 

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!

Connecting with Your Body: The Surprising Way to Channel Your Most Brilliant Self

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.

This Friday 2 pm event is free. The link to sign up is HERE, so come join us.

I will be the first speaker among some other interesting women, including a professor from Brown University who will be talking about life as a roller coaster. Yes.

The event will be recorded so we will share the video with you later!

Any questions, put them in the comments. Hope to see you there!

Pussywalking… a talk at PechaKucha Providence

On stage at PechaKucha Providence, sharing my vision: a world where women are powerful because we are connected to our bodies

Oooooh, I’m excited to share my #pechakucha talk in #Providence on #pussywalking! The formal title: “Pussywalking: What it is, why it matters, and how you can practice it too.”

If you are new to Pussywalking, this is a simple way for you to tap into your sexual energy for a confidence boost at any time, in any context. Pussywalking is a method that I have been developing for the last ten years and sharing in my workshops and with clients. Any woman of any age can do it. All you have to do is activate your energy through your awareness.

You can watch on YouTube for a higher quality video, or on Instagram to also see the screens that I presented.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sasha Cagen (@sashacagen)

In this talk, I admitted to being scared. This was the biggest crowd I have shared pussywalking with, and to give this talk in Rhode Island where I grew up felt both exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve always felt there is a kind of hostility  toward sexuality and sexual energy in Southern New England, the area where I grew up. Maybe it’s the memories of all the young men who yelled “pussy” out the window of their Camaros at me and my friends when we were young, going out for the night in Providence, or maybe it’s the ghost of the Puritans, or the witch-burnings, still hanging out in the architecture.

On the other hand, I’ve always known since I moved back to New England in 2020 that eventually I would share my message of empowerment through connecting with our bodies and sexual energy in this part of the world, where people need it even more than in California or Buenos Aires (the two places where I spent most of my adult life, until now). And indeed, the experience of giving this talk was amazing. The people in Providence are pussywalking-ready! You can tell by the crowd’s reaction.
I loved sharing my vision: a world where women are more powerful because we are connected to our bodies from the inside out.

I would love to keep going giving pussywalking talks. I am ready for the TED stage now. Are you a TED organizer or do you have another event where I could spread the gospel? Let me know.

At the end of the talk, I put out a call for scientific collaborators to study the effects of pussywalking on women’s posture, confidence and well-being. I am serious about this. Just as Wim Hof has found scientific researchers to study the effects of his breathing and cold-water exposure methods, I think it’s time for study of the effects of what happens when women activate the sexual energy in their bodies as they walk.

Do you know anyone in psychology or neuroscience who might want to partner with me? Reach out here.

And let me know what you think about the talk in the comments!

The Pleasure and Pain of Plunging into Cold Water, Inch by Inch

 

My fascination began in March 2020, one of those weeks when the pandemic started to get all too real. Quarantine had just begun.

One evening when I wasn’t freaking out reading an Atlantic article predicting how long this pandemic might last (three to four years, I distinctly remember reading), I watched Goop Lab on Netflix, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness show. Many people enjoy hating Gwyneth, but I like her program’s mission. I enjoy trying out wellness trends too. Heck, I would love to have my own show Sasha Lab. In the first season, Gwyneth and her staff tested out everything from using psychedelics for healing trauma to exploring female masturbation with the queen of self-pleasure Betty Dodson.

The episode featuring the Dutch extreme athlete and health expert Wim Hof (also known as the “IceMan”) sucked me right in. The bearded, ruddy-faced iconoclast talked about how going way outside of our comfort zones by immersing ourselves in cold water can make us stronger. Hof explained that he had worked with researchers at universities for years to demonstrate that cold-water therapy worked to boost the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, alleviate inflammation, cope with depression and anxiety, and control pain. His message, in essence: If you can stand the cold water, you can take control of your health.

Gwyneth’s staff jumped into an unimaginably freezing, snowy Lake Tahoe under his tutelage. I watched, riveted, on the couch, and thought, I could try a cold shower. That night I turned the dial in the shower to the right, but I couldn’t handle the blast. The cold felt water like bullets. I jumped backward and strained to turn the dial back. Wimp, I thought to myself, resigned.

The lure of the cold stayed with me though, even if I didn’t believe I would ever meet its challenge. When I first watched that show, I was sitting on the couch in Buenos Aires, where I had been living for five years. Weeks later I found myself back in Rhode Island, crashing at my mother’s house. It was the beginning of the pandemic when going to Walgreen’s was exciting. Nature was all we had.

I told Elizabeth, my only friend in Rhode Island, that I wanted to try cold plunges. Elizabeth knew a woman who ran a group. She sent me her contact. I got added to a list.

Soon I was getting emails with the subjects “Plunge tomorrow noon” and “4 pm swim—anyone interested?”

cold water plunge rhode island

Mackerel Cove, Jamestown, Rhode Island, March 2021

One April 2020 day I took off on a forty-five-minute drive south to find the plungers. The calm beach at Mackerel Cove in Jamestown is a crescent-shaped cove with soft white sand and calm blue-green waters. The beach was starkly beautiful in early spring. I was glad for the beauty and to get out of the house. Six people emerged from their cars: one man, and five women, donning bathrobes and pink felt ponchos over their bathing suits, swim caps in hand.

I waved hello and introduced myself.

They yelled, “It’s tropical! It’s balmy! It’s so warm!” The temperature hovered around forty Fahrenheit. I didn’t agree, but I found the group charming. In their excitement, these forty-, fifty-, and sixty-somethings looked and sounded like boisterous schoolkids who got together to play. One of them did a jig on the way into the water. I dipped my feet in that day as they plunged but that was enough. I still didn’t see myself becoming one of those people. And that was that.

A year later the pandemic was still raging. The emails about cold plunges started to fill my inbox again.

In early February 2021, I answered one, “I’m coming!” By the next winter of isolation, I had grown desperate. I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone again after so many evenings spent watching Netflix in isolation. I took up running in the morning, but I remembered seeing something else in those middle-aged eyes: true joy. True joy had been lacking in my life that pandemic winter. I didn’t know what, but I still suspected something was on the other side of the cold water. I wanted to experience it, whatever it was.

The wind whipped across the beach that gray day in late February. In New England, the winter sun descends before 5 pm. I came wearing a bikini, but I kept my pants on and rolled them up to my knees. I walked in up to about three inches, and then darted out of the icy water. In and out, in and out, six times. I didn’t get far. Submerging my ankles pushed me to my limit. Meanwhile, the group stayed in fortyish-degree water for fifteen minutes even when the air temperature dipped to the thirties. Some of them even swam. Their heads capped, they walked out radiant, glowing. Mostly women. I had never seen anything more badass.

One of them told me on the beach, “Just keep coming back and go in as much as you can.”

And so it went. I came through February and March and didn’t make it any deeper than my knees. I developed a reputation as a shrieker. I would yell and throw my arms in the air, the 45-degree water an assault on my toes, ankles. and calves, and throw my arms around like a windmill to release the pain. The women taught me how to warm up my feet after plunging (bring bottles of hot water and a basin for a spa bath post-plunge).

post-plunging spa

post-plunging spa

My envy grew every trip. This was a higher level of joy these people got out of cold-water plunging than anything I have ever seen from my fellow Americans. The group called themselves “What’s Wrong with These People People?” One day someone shouted to them from a car, “What’s wrong with you people?” The name was born. These were definitely among the more interesting characters I’d met since returning to Rhode Island.

Plungers are not your average people.

One day walking on the beach toward me, the tall, bald Michael the leader of the pack, 68, a retired scientist and high school swim coach, shouted into the air with his arms raised to the sky, “What’s wrong with us? We feel like this! I turn into a love machine. I love everything, the sand, the sky, people! It’s like that! Something about what the cold does to your body unleashes that.”

I made about fifteen attempts between February and April.

One afternoon I drove to the 4 pm meeting spot with the conviction, today will be my breakthrough. I don’t know if I am going to turn into a love machine but I am going to get into the water.

That weekend I happened to read an essay in The New York Times about a woman who turned to cold-water therapy after an unimaginable tragedy. Her husband killed their two children and then himself. She had come to stay with her aunt on Long Island and found her way to a small group of her own. I understood the attraction. There had been one day after a writing class when I felt a heavy load of shame in my body after presenting work; intuitively I knew the thing to do to shake off those feelings in my body would be to join the group. Even when I only got into my knees or hips, the cold zapped me like a kind of shock therapy. The sensation was so strong that it wiped away negative emotions and took me right into the present moment.

The obliterating quality of the cold water renewed me, even when I didn’t get all the way in.

Inside that gorgeous essay about grief, I found a simple tip.

The writer said, get into shoulder level and breathe thirty seconds to get to the other side. OK, I thought, I will try.

That April afternoon in Jamestown seven of us met. It was a windy, sunny day, on the brink of spring. The water registered at forty-five degrees, bath-like compared to the thirty-nine when I started coming in February.

I walked in with the group further than ever before past my knees, past my hips, and let the water shock my belly. My hands presented the biggest challenge. They hurt the most. I didn’t want to put them in. But I did. I submerged my hands and then my shoulders, breathing to a count of thirty. Around twenty-nine, the pain gave way to vibrating numbness on my skin. A minute or two after counting, the strangest thing happened. My inner fire lit. Somewhere deep inside of my guts a heat built, a contrast to the cold water surrounding me, and the dark water turning into a strangely silky viscous thing. I started to float with happiness, this bizarre combination of cold water surrounding me, a furnace within.

One of the other plungers wore a waterproof watch. “How long has it been? How long has it been?” I asked obsessively. I wanted to quantify my breakthrough.

I stayed in for fourteen minutes that first time, so insanely gleeful.

You never forget the first time.

cold water plunging wim hof rhode island

My breakthrough day in Jamestown, April 2021.

 

The air felt surprisingly warm that day when we got out. It was 50 or so on the beach. My legs and arms and chest blotted red, dotted with blood vessels. We looked like lobsters coming out of the water. My hands hurt. My hands felt stiff.

“Don’t worry about that,” Mike said, as he saw me regarding my hands. “Cold-water swimmers call it claw-hand. It’s the first sign of hypothermia but it’s not serious, it’s just the beginning.”

The dull ache in my hands faded enough for me to use my hands, pouring my bottles of steaming hot water into my foot basin. I stepped in. My blocky feet thawed as I stood there on the sandy beach in Jamestown by a bridge and behind a hotel, sailboats moored, dormant until warmer days. The high came on gradually. I started to finally feel it, the thing I had been after all along, the bodily joy I had lusted after for months started to take root.

It’s hard to describe the feeling but when the physical reaction came on it was like a flood of warm lights turning on inside, lit up from within. Since then it’s become clear to me that the colder the water is, the more endorphins are produced in the reaction. In this way, swimming in the winter can become even more pleasurable than in the summer. The French call orgasm petit mort, or little death. You die from the intensity of the sensation, then you are reborn. The cold water is a petit mort.

When I was leaving on that breakthrough day, one of the women in the group came over to her car next to mine.

“So you have been coming all this time and this was the first time you felt it?”

“Yup.”

“You must really like to torture yourself!”

“Maybe. I guess I had faith that I would eventually get there.” 

Of course, she was raising that age-old question: do we dive in quickly into the waves or cautiously enter inch by inch? Everyone finds their own way, if we are persistent enough. Maybe what I loved most of all in that moment was my persistence. When it comes to accomplishing big things, there is nothing more important than persistence.

Have I kept up cold-water therapy? Am I still plunging? Yes. A year later, I am still at it, feeling more like an official group member. I got all the way into the water up to my shoulders on January 1, something I am proud of, but I’ve taken a break recently as the air temperatures dip to the teens. I have my limits. But you know what? I also take cold showers now. Transformation is indeed possible.

I sometimes ask myself, Why? Why do you drive forty-five minutes each way to do something that most people regard as insane? Isn’t there an easier way to feel good? Why not play a joyful playlist and throw your own private dance party at home?

We need many strategies to feel good in our bodies, at least I do. Cold-water plunging is a special pleasure. Sometimes I think it’s the people—the opportunity to share this incredible, outside-the-comfort zone enthusiasm with the other plungers gives me energy for life. The group plunge is a communal kind of orgasm. Sometimes I think it’s the intensity—the pleasure matches the pain. That intensity feels like a confirmation of what it feels like to be a human being, a sensitive one anyway. And of course, there is the possibility of a lovely after-effect. The coldwatergasm can last for hours.

As it turns out, doing this one hard thing has helped me to do other hard things. I often think, if I can do the cold water, I can do this too. Get through this break-up. Publish that book.

I recently re-watched the Goop Lab episode that originally inspired me. I was struck by how much didn’t even register the first time. The idea of getting into the cold water so bowled me over. In the episode, Hof talks about how he turned to cold water immersion to get over the suicide of his wife, the mother of his four children. I didn’t remember that. One doesn’t have to be recovering from tragedy to turn to cold-water therapy—people plunge for many reasons—but that deeply therapeutic, wiped-clean effect does seem to be part of the draw for many. Wim said his children helped him survive, but the cold water healed him.

“You can go into the cold water and adapt, and with that, you become the alchemist of life itself,” he said. I smiled at this thought as I watched on the couch the second time, two years later. I knew exactly what he meant this time. Amen.

Michael, the swim coach, and I celebrate my breakthrough plunge a week later 🙂

our group plunging new year's day jamestown ri

New Year’s Plunge, 2022

Rhode Island PBS recently came to film a segment with a few different groups of Rhode Islanders who dare to swim in frigid waters during the winter, and my group is the first to be profiled. You can meet Mike the swim coach here for yourself. Look for my butt around 4:48 as we enter Third Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island. 😉

Trick or treating as a childless, fortysomething woman. I mean, WHY NOT?

trick or treating as a childless fortysomething woman – yes it can be done!

After Tanya and I hit up a few houses trick-or-treating on my block, collecting Dark Kit Kats and Smarties, I tried to convince my friend that people might be taking us for teenagers.

At the next house, a sixtyish woman dressed as a witch wryly asked us, “Aren’t you too a little old to be trick or treating?” There was a glint of amusement in her eyes, however, and it turned out she loved our costumes. She, like all the other adults, offered us candy.

Tanya was “the wolf in cheap clothing” with a big animal head obscuring her adult face and price tags for $1 pinned all over her outfit–everyone is going to love you with that terrible pun! Tanya was literally spreading joy around the neighborhood. I was wearing a Russian Doll/Matryoshka costume, ironic since a Russian doll is a traditional representation of the mother carrying a child within her–ummmm, we were trick or treating as grown adults without any children!

We joked about going out with a fake child (marionnettes?) as our costume, but in the end we learned that adults — even childless adults — can successfully trick or treat, at least in my relatively progressive neighborhood in Rhode Island.

Were we nervous? VERY! OF COURSE! Trick or treating as a childless, fortysomething adult was an adventure way outside the comfort zone. I hadn’t gone trick or treating since my sophomore year in college, and really had no idea how people would react. I was prepared for people to judge us. But actually, everyone welcomed us.

There are plenty of parents out there in costume handing out candy and walking around with their adorable kids, and hey, if you happen to not have kids, why can’t you trick or treat too?

As Tanya and I discovered, trick or treating is still one of the best ways to meet your neighbors. If it’s scary to meet new people, then it’s all the better. Halloween is the holiday to get your spook on.

Click over here to watch a video we made at the end of the night talking about what we learned about the mildly subversive activity of going trick or treating as childless, fortysomething women, using the Russian doll as a microphone.

I currently have a big candy haul in my kitchen in a bowl, the majority of which I cannot eat because I have celiac disease (no gluten!). Want the candy?

glutenous candy stash to be distributed


Give a shout out on the comments of the video!

Chatting about self-marriage on Despierta America

Me encanto la charla! I loved being on Univision’s ¡Despierta América! (that’s “Wake Up America,” a kind of Good Morning America aimed at the Latino audience in the US) talking about self-marriage and what I do to reconcile with myself after a big internal conflict … give myself a kiss and buy myself chocolate! This interview was funny!

I love it when the interviewers ask interesting questions. Paola Gutierrez asked me what made me fall in love with myself enough to marry myself. I thought for a second and said, “My sensitivity.”

Awwwww. I fell in love with myself all over again.

if you understand Spanish, watch this interview! Or even if you don’t speak Spanish. This chat has buena onda (good vibes).

Three-page gratitude list…even in this disaster of a year

To all my readers, those in the US and not,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is probably the best, purest American holiday based on a value that I most appreciate: gratitude.

It’s not always simple to access gratitude for the blessings in our lives–and there’s always something to be grateful for. I just wrote a three-page list of everything and everyone I am grateful for and there is so much. Even in this disaster of a year there is so much!

There was one Thanksgiving, maybe 2012, I spent alone in the year after I got diagnosed as celiac. I couldn’t deal yet with navigating life gluten-free at Thanksgiving. I spent the day alone in my Oakland apartment making a pot of chicken soup and dwelling on gratitude, which actually took me to a kind of high solitude state. This was the opposite of loneliness, of lack: I felt so abundant dwelling in myself, thinking about all the goodness in my life. I realized then it was possible to go on a gratitude fest alone on Thanksgiving. I love social Thanksgivings too–don’t get me wrong–but it was nice to realize that there was another solitude-filled way to celebrate too.

This year will be a combination for me: solo time today and tomorrow my family will gather for an outdoor Thanksgiving. Today it’s raining.

I’m grateful to all of you who have been readers of my books and corresponders from the newsletter, those who are eager for my memoir to come out (you help me keep going), those who have come on Tango Adventures and participated in online classes, those who have tried out pussywalking and written me about their experiences, and my coaching clients who I find to be amazing people. You quirky people are all pretty fantastic. I hope for new things to emerge to engage with you on after I finish up with this book – so stay tuned for 2021!

I hope you have a beautiful day whether alone or together. Make a list of everything, everything you are grateful for. It’s fun. Three pages minimum. Get super granular and quirky.

Happy Thanksgiving!