Oral Histories

How the Year of Turned-On Living Changed Me

At the first “family dinner” of the 2023 Turned-On Living retreat, at the Airbnb where everyone stayed, one of the women joked that she felt like a different person than the one who started in the group in January. That was November. A few of the other women said they felt the same way.

That comment planted a question. “How are you different as a result of being part of the Turned-On Living group for a year?”

After our year concluded, I set up times to interview the women about what stuck out for them as the most important changes that happened for and in them through the year. We did so much together, learned so much, and shared so much, and danced so much. I wanted to know what stuck with them.

I put on my oral historian hat to interview them. Here are their stories.

Oral History 1

I feel a lot more comfortable being myself

The year of Turned-On Living brought a deeper ability to focus than I’ve felt in a long time. 

I feel very different as a result of the Turned-On Living year together. I feel a lot more comfortable being myself. Definitely, I am more in touch with who I am and what I want. 

The month of visioning was big for me. I hadn’t ever thought long-term about what I want for my life. I’m not a long-term person at all. Being in this group challenged me to think about my future and what I really want. My desires. 

My vision is possible. Before, I probably wouldn’t have thought so.

I really enjoyed writing out our visions and then reading them out loud. I am smiling now thinking about it. Writing out the vision was like writing a magical story for myself where I was the leading character. I’ve never been a long-term planner for anything, so writing the visions was the first time I asked myself seriously what I desired out of life, work, home, relationships, etc. It gave me a vision/dream to strive towards. 

This year I’m taking a three-month sabbatical from work to travel solo. I would never have thought I would do that but being in the group has given me the confidence to believe these things don’t only happen for other people. Something like this can happen to me. 

Learning the skills of anti-people-pleasing had a lot to do with making the sabbatical happen. Previously, I would have thought, oh, it’s a big inconvenience for people at work for me to be out for three months. Now I’m like, It’s OK. They’ll deal with it. So that’s been very instrumental. 

The anti-people-pleasing month got me asking for things that I normally would have been very hesitant to ask for. 

I learned that what I considered being “nice and kind” was sometimes people-pleasing behavior! I definitely have more tools in my toolkit for anti-people pleasing, etc. than I’ve ever had before. I am better equipped to deal with life’s challenges as a result. I have learned it’s OK to say no, speak your mind. and voice an unpopular opinion, or disappoint someone. 

At work, I became more vocal about timelines. 

Last year, we had a big project. Twice, I had to go up to the project manager and tell him, “Look, sorry, this isn’t going to work for us.” That was hard. 

In the past, I would have been concerned, like, “Is needing more time a reflection on my team? Are we not good enough because we can’t meet these timelines?” But this time, I think I saw it more like, speaking up is for the good of the team. Ultimately, the project will be more successful if we have more time. 

That was not a popular move. But it felt like the right thing to do. In the end, the request was accommodated. So that was great. We got that extra time. 

Being part of the Turned-On Living group helped me with coming across people that I normally wouldn’t. Last year (during the year of Turned-On Living), I did drama and improv. I acted in a play in French. I only speak high school French! These were things that I did when I was a kid, but I’d lost touch with that playful part of me.

It was so much fun and again, not something I thought it would be doing. So yeah, Turned-On Living helped me get outside my comfort zone. 

I’d met this man; he’s one who invited me to the French play. But he kept asking me to hang out after. I kept saying no. He would persist. I brought it up with the group as part of the Turned-On Living Tournament. 

I was like, “You know what, I need to be more direct, and I will get a gold star for this.” So I wrote him a very direct message, more direct than I’ve been. He totally understood and backed off. So that was a pretty big thing. And yes, I got a gold star. 

It was good to have the backing of the group. All we went through together was good. To hear other people’s stories about things they were asking for. Hearing their success stories was great, too. 

I’m so grateful for our one-on-one experience in coaching. I’ve learned so much working with you. And it’s helpful to have another group of people that are also looking for the same things. 

I think “Turned-On Living” means you’re connected to your desires and your values. I think more importantly, you’re not afraid to pursue your desires and dreams.

 “Turned-On Living” means you’re comfortable and confident to pursue these dreams and desires, whether they work out or not, at least you tried. 

Also, I loved how we danced at the start of every session. So I think Turned-On Living is also about energies moving within us. A big part of that is movement and feeling alive inside, to feel more confident and comfortable. Movement is a big part of it.

What is the importance of embodiment or being in your body in Turned-On Living? I think the focus on the body connects you to what you’re feeling. 

At times, I’ve been pretty numb to what I’m feeling inside, ignoring the signals my body is telling me, overriding them. Being embodied means you’re in sync with your body and its signals. Maybe there’s an element of intuition; you’re listening inside.  

After our group coaching, if I’m struggling with a decision, I have used the pussybreathing practice to determine if my body is a yes or a no to something. 

I have been doing self-compassion meditation throughout the year and I find it incredibly effective in helping me regulate my mood and emotions. 

Pussywalking gives me confidence in myself and reminds me to slow it down! Also I find pussywalking incredibly relaxing.

At the start of the year, I would have never fathomed doing a soul-commitment ceremony! 

I’m so happy I did it.  I never saw myself as being married. So this was pretty big for me: a ceremony for ourselves. 

I’ve committed to myself. I have those vows that I can always turn back to. I sometimes use that necklace you gave us as a bit of an amulet. If I need a mood or confidence booster, or some protection when I go out in the world, I put it on, and I know that the necklace represents so much more. I go out there and I feel comfortable and confident. It’s a bit of a superpower. 

What was the essence of my Soul Commitment vows? Self-acceptance. There are things about me, like my anxiety, or my tendency to people-please, that are parts to me. And that’s okay. I can be friendly with them. I can live with them. I accept them. I can grow with them. So I think it was a lot of self-acceptance of who I am and where I am. 

The farm was beautiful, too, a perfect setting for the Soul Commitment Ceremony. 

What would I say to someone who’s on the fence? I would say, go for it. Just go for it. It’s such a rewarding experience, you’ll learn a lot. You’ll meet other like-minded people. The possibility of a soul commitment ceremony is just another bonus.

Oral History 2

Now I think first about what I want, what works for ME

I had not quite realized the deeply critical voice I had inside my head, and how that inner critic shows up and manipulates me from within. I may not think it’s “critical” but I was constantly telling myself a story about how I had to “do better” or “more” or keep “doing.”

I also had not realized the depths and nuances in ways that people-pleasing shows up for me in every area of my life. I was better on the family side with not trying to please, probably because I had 50+ years of evidence that it does not work, but that tendency was showing up in just about everything else. Especially with work, where pleasing people seems to be part of the unwritten job description. You must sacrifice everything to get the ever-expanding job done on the timelines others give you!

As a result of doing the Turned-On Living year, I feel like the true controller of my actions, instead of feeling like a victim of everything and everyone around me.  

I feel more powerful, more confident, more accepting of my emotions, feelings, body, impulses, needs.  I’m the true CEO of my life and feel like I have lots of choices, opportunities, a larger world of possibilities.

Now I think first about what I WANT in a situation, what works for ME, and what or who I am willing to inconvenience myself for.  

I pause, I don’t react immediately on autopilot. I move, think, and feel with a spaciousness and unhurried pace I never had before. If I’m tense or don’t want to respond to someone or something, I speak up for needing time, or wanting to consider what has been said.  

Acting in alignment with my values means treating myself the way I would a good friend, and not abandoning my needs or treating myself as a machine.

What has changed for me as a result of having been part of this group of women that met consistently for the last year? I know that there are people I can trust to be honest and kind, support me on my journey without judgment, share their journey with me over time, and see that I have value in this world.  I’m not defective. That has been instrumental in helping me recognize when I’m in the presence of people who are the right ones to have in my life (and conversely, which people I do not want to spend much time with).

I understand now how fundamental play is to me, how it helps me learn, connect and appreciate life, people, and myself. 

What was the importance of the soul commitment ceremony for me? I had such massive resistance to the idea for most of the year. The turning point came for me when I realized this was a commitment to myself. I didn’t have to use the loaded term “marriage.” (Note from Sasha: In Turned-On Living, you can call the ceremony a “self-marriage” or “soul commitment,” whatever works best for you.)

The soul commitment ceremony was by far the biggest and most important thing I did this year. It was incredibly hard to write the vows but even harder to read them out loud to the group. But I did it, and I feel so proud that I now have them as a touchstone for the rest of my life. What does it mean? The soul commitment means to not let yourself down in the name of pleasing someone else. What are your key commitments to yourself that you do not want to forget, that you always want to have top of mind? Essentially, that’s your vows. 

My soul commitment vows help with the anti-people pleasing because they focus on my rights as a human to exist, to have needs, to matter, to honor and celebrate myself, just as I am. They help me stay strong and in my feminine power!

Turned-On Living was a great experience. I can’t even express how great. I tried to, but honestly, I don’t think words can do it justice.

Turned-On Living 2024

The deadline to apply to be part of the TOL 2024 group starting in September is July 1.

Spaces are limited because everything I do is intimate. Do you already feel called to be part of this? To get the ball rolling and secure your place, fill out this form and tell me more about you.