How to Be OK with Being Single Even When You Are Actually Not OK With It

I was chatting with one of my best friends on the phone the other night when I asked her if she had seen the Brene Brown special “The Call to Courage” on Netflix.

She said, “Yeah,” but she said yeah with a kind of smirk that I could discern on the phone.

“It’s kind of obligatory for women of our demographic,” she said.

Ha. That demographic would be San Francisco, progressive, emotionally aware, 40s-50s.

We talked about the special, which I appreciated. Brene Brown’s work naming the power of vulnerability and its importance for love, happiness, and connection has been life-changing for me as it has been for many, many people. But there was one aspect of the talk that didn’t sit exactly right.

I loved Brene Brown’s storytelling about how incredibly challenging it can be to open up and talk about your feelings in an intimate relationship, even and especially for her (and for me I would add too!). Being vulnerable is not easy! But when she was telling stories from her life I had the feeling she was assuming that everyone in the audience was married, or at least, had a long-term partner. She was careful to use a non-parenting example after using a parenting example in her talk, but I had the feeling she wasn’t addressing the high percentage of people who are out there struggling to find and maintain a relationship or who are content being single.

There are particular ways that shame and challenges around vulnerability show up for those of us who are dating, and have been single for longer than we want to be. This is just one of the reasons I was so glad Bay Area therapist Laura Parker reached out to interview me as part of her groundbreaking series Transforming Loneliness.

Laura definitely groks “quirkyalone” (probably because she is one!). We could focus on shame and vulnerability from that perspective. We talked about how we can move from “single shame” to owning our stories as discerning quirkyalones. Why? So we can stop all those self-critical thoughts in our heads–and be more peaceful within ourselves and open to more love and connection.

For example, in our conversation, we talk about with shameful thoughts and questions like, “Is it my fault that I’m still single? I’m the one common denominator!” Or “Am I actually unlovable?”

By now I have enough experience as a life coach, writer and human being to know that people in long relationships also struggle with questions about whether they are lovable, but these questions really do hit hard if you are single for a lot longer than you want to be. I’ve worked through those issues myself–they will be on full display in my memoir (working title Wet). I often talk with clients who carry around the feeling that it’s their fault they are still single.

Loneliness, in my view, gets very tangled up with shame. We feel ashamed of feeling lonely and needing or wanting more connection than we have. We might even feel ashamed of having needs for love or companionship that have not been met. Or we might feel ashamed that our life stories don’t fit the “norm” of how adulthood is supposed to happen with certain milestones by certain ages.

According to this San Diego-based psychological study, 75% of Americans struggle with loneliness, even if they have a partner and a network of friends. These researchers found wisdom, compassion and empathy help people to feel more connected to humanity and the cosmos. Interacting with others who share values and interests can be helpful too.

Laura wants to help us to change the way we view loneliness so that instead of feeling ashamed of our loneliness as a personal failing we see it as a message to be attended to. I hope this conversation can give you more wisdom to look at your own feelings of loneliness when they come up. As Laura helped us see there are lots of ways to look at a dating history that has been mostly single. There might be something right with you if you don’t settle for a mediocre or unhealthy relationship.

In this video, you will hear us talk about:

  • What we mean when we say “single shame.” It’s that feeling that might overcome you when your date asks how long it’s been since your last relationship. It’s been years, and you don’t know what to say
  • What it means to “own your story” so someone can get to know you. If we don’t love and accept our own story enough to share it will be difficult for anyone to get to know you.
  • This brilliant corrective to single shame. When you are caught in a loop of self-judgment about still being single, sometimes the best thing to do is stop judging yourself and accept the mystery of life.
  • What I think about the idea that “you have to love yourself to love someone else.”
  • How relationships are mirrors and are co-created between two people.
  • How my ideas about relationships have evolved since publishing Quirkyalone in 2004
  • The memoir I’m working on now Wet is a follow-up to Quirkyalone. The new book goes into my own single shame story of how healing the effects of trauma helped me to open up more deeply than ever before in an important romantic relationship
  • Touch starvation when feeling lonely–and how tango or any kind of dance with contact can be an antidote

So go back to the top of this blog post and watch this video because it’s truly special (it starts off slow but it’s really a gem if you identify with being quirkyalone). Then, want to read or hear more about working with your loneliness and healing single shame?

Laura interviewed more than a dozen healers and thinkers on the topic of transforming loneliness from many spiritual perspectives. These videos are very nourishing. I recommend you check them out on her YouTube channel.

I’ve been talking about single shame with other authors, coaches and therapists for a while now.

I talked with Sara Eckel, author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single about how to heal your single shame. Sara wrote about that icky feeling of single shame in a beautiful Modern Love essay that launched her book of the same name. Watch that conversation here.

To go further:

Grab your copy of my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics to to know you are never alone when you’re quirkyalone.

This is tough stuff and you don’t need to do it on your own. Sometimes the best way to work through shame is to work with someone who can be your compassionate witness and observer to help you work through these feelings. Simply acknowledging and talking about shame often lessens those feelings considerably. Get one–on-one-help with working through single shame to own your story and open up for more love and connection. You can find a therapist in your area and ask him or her if she is sensitive to these types of issues or check out my coaching page and request a consult to explore coaching with me.

Bringing self-marriage to Argentina!

photo by Julia Ribeiro / shot while filming a “nota” for the Argentine news program TeleNoche about self-marriage in the Japanese Gardens (where I married myself in 2014!)

What happens when a national news program in Argentina wants to know about the American woman who married herself in Buenos Aires? That happened this week. The interview was all in Spanish. Oh my god, it was amazing! We shot this very entertaining video in the Japanese Garden in Buenos Aires–exactly where I married myself five years ago!

This interview was a chance to spread the concept of self-marriage as a ritual of self-love and -acceptance in South America in Spanish on the biggest nightly news show in Argentina TeleNoche. Since then I have gotten lots of media requests from radio stations and newspapers in Argentina. 

Just as a reminder, self-marriage does not at all imply or require being single. I’ve helped married and single women marry themselves in my coaching practice.

I see comments on social media arguing, “But constructing a beautiful relationship is so important.” I agree!  Perhaps some who marry themselves don’t want a relationship but that’s not my approach in my own life or with my clients. In my view, self-marriage is not a rejection of intimate relationship but a foundation for it. Self-marriage is the foundation for everything. 

I also want a loving committed, interdependent relationship with a man. That’s the vulnerable part of me that might not get seen in my advocacy for self-marriage or Quirkyalone. If that sounds contradictory, so be it–it’s really not not. Loving ourselves helps us love other people. Being kinder to yourself helps you look at a a loved one, a friend, or strangers, with a softer, more loving gaze. I can’t say that marrying myself made me a perfect person, but the ring is always a reference point to remember the way I want to treat myself and others.

That’s the deep side of self-marriage. There’s also a hilarious side because marrying yourself can be pretty fun. With Jason Mayne of TeleNoche I was able to be more myself than I am in most interviews.

When I talked about Quirkyalone with Anderson Cooper on CNN the interview felt like a battle. When you go to battle you’re tense. When you’re joking you can be more relaxed. Maybe it’s was Jason’s sympathetic genuine millenial vibe, that we were in a park, or that I was speaking in a foreign language. Anyway, he managed to bring out the best in me. We had so much fun! 

Watch the video and let me know what you think.

 

For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, my team and I translated the interview. 

Jason: And this ring, what does it mean?

Sasha: Well, it’s a commitment to myself, that I’ve taken that step of marrying myself.

Jason narration: There is a movement that grows in the world that is called sologamy or self-marriage, people who marry themselves. And one of the references is now in the city of Buenos Aires. Let’s go talk to her because I want to know what this is about. How is it that you marry yourself, is it a traditional party? No? Well, here we’ll see.

Sasha, what’s up?

Sasha: Hi, how are you?

Jason: Very good! I want to see this, what you have here. Is it a commitment ring?

Sasha: Oh well, yes, it’s my commitment ring with myself.

Jason: What does this ring mean?

Sasha: Well, it’s a symbol of the fact that I took this step to marry myself. As a symbol of self-love and self-acceptance. 

Jason: And how long have you been married?

Sasha: It’s been five years. We’ve been together for 5 years!

Jason: Where did you get married?

Sasha: Here, in the Japanese Garden.

Jason: Where are you from?

Sasha: I’m from the United States, I fell in love with tango, I moved to Buenos Aires, I decided to marry myself and I did the ceremony here in the Japanese Garden.

Jason: And does it have something to do with not expecting the prince and going against all that societal pressure of marriage?

Sasha: Yes. I was going to be 40 years old and I had not married a man yet and I wanted to do something for myself, a ritual. About being an adult, being a woman, taking charge of my own happiness. And also my self-acceptance, that’s a very profound thing.

Jason: Did you tell your friends, your family that you were going to marry yourself? What did they say to you?

Sasha: Well, I told very few people, because I knew that most people would not understand. My mother told me, whatever is good for you is good for me, but I know she thought I was crazy. And that’s OK.

Jason: So it’s about not depending on sharing moments with another person, its about feeling feeling good being yourself?

Sasha: Yes, and I also like to be in a couple. Getting married to yourself doesn’t mean that I want to be single, it’s not like that. It’s that I want to take care of my happiness, when I’m single or when I’m with someone.

Sasha: For me, what is fundamental is to write the vows.

Jason: You wrote the vows?

Sasha: Yes, of course.

reading the vows from five years ago, translated to Spanish

Jason: These are the vows of your self-marriage?

Sasha: My self-marriage yes, because I can also marry a man. it’s not exclusive, it’s very polyamorous.

Jason: The polyamory, I like it, you already stole the concept.

Sasha: Yes, we are in everything.

Jason: Okay, for example, what does it say?

Sasha: I promise to follow what I love, my passions. I promise to fall in love with others’ imperfections as well as I fall in love with mine, because I’m not perfect.

Jason: There it is …

Sasha: I promise to see myself beautiful and accept my sexuality.

Jason: These were the vows of your self-marriage …

Sasha: Yes.

Jason: After, for example, was there a honeymoon?

Sasha: Well, there was a day to celebrate with friends, the honeymoon is still coming.

Jason: It’s pending.

Sasha: It’s pending.

Jason: And marrying oneself is only for women?

Sasha: No men can also marry themselves.

Making some very important point about self-marriage to the crew!

Sasha: In 2004 I wrote this book (Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics), and this book is the first place where there was published writing about self-marriage in a book. I did interviews with other women who had done it (married themselves) in California.

Jason: At what time did you say I want to marry myself?

Sasha: That was some months before my 40th birthday, I was very anxious.

Jason: How is the wedding ritual?

Sasha: Yes, there were many cases when women who wear the white dress and do the whole party. Everything.

Jason: You got gifts for self-marriage?

Sasha: There were gifts that were very sentimental, but not a lot of money. My self-marriage was very inexpensive, very economical.

Jason: Are there companies that offer self-marrying services?

Sasha: There are a few. There’s a box you can buy from the internet to help you with your process, and I see it as very economical, compared to the United States. Getting married in the US is very expensive, and we see what happens in many weddings and for me here is something very economical option that will help you a lot. And you’ll never divorce yourself.

Jason: So more economical, and you won’t get divorced if you marry yourself!

Sasha: Yes! And you’re free to do what you want.

Jason: Could it be that this is the key to happiness?

Sasha: It could be, yes!

Jason: Since you didn’t do something . . . as part of the production. (Takes out fake bouquet of flowers.)

Sasha: Oh no.

Jason: Here we throw the bouquet of flowers to the back.

Sasha: For the next. Let’s go. (Throws bouquet backwards to Jason)

Jason: Yes! I never thought this moment would arrive and it arrived.

Sasha: It arrived.

Jason: Thank you Sasha.

Sasha: I’m so happy for you.

Jason: Now the only thing that is missing is the ring and I’m all good. And the honeymoon.

Sasha: Let’s do it.

Jason: Thank you.

Pop music plays… 

Analyzing the light and where to shoot – these guys were hilarious. The tattoed sound guy thanked me and said my story would help him get his mother off his back because he could tell her he was marrying himself.

Are you ready to come marry yourself in the Japanese Gardens in Buenos Aires? Or in some other beautiful spot in this city, or in your own city? It’s all possible! I do help women and men, single or already married, marry themselves through my coaching practice so if you want some support to take this step yourself, you know where to go. Check out my coaching page and request a consult.

My team and I have also welcomed women to marry themselves or do their own personal honeymoon with a Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. If that gift to yourself appeals to you, check out the Solo Chica Tango Adventure. With Solo Chica you will not be solo long, just like when you marry yourself you might attract better offers after you take a stand for your own self-worth!

Pussywalking’s Media Debut in Blood and Milk!

pussywalking’s media debut in Blood and Milk!

I’m thrilled to share with you the media debut of PUSSYWALKING with this excellent piece written by Maya Frost published in Blood and Milk, a fascinating website devoted to  what it’s like to live inside a female body.

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!

Here’s that article again…

It’s a great one so please be in touch and let me know what you are discovering.

Pussywalk on into 2019.

xoxox

Sasha

P.S.  I’d love to hear from you on the benefits you are experiencing from pussywalking after you give it a try–or two or three. If you haven’t already watched the videos, head to this page and be sure to sign up for my special pussywalking newsletter here. That way we will be especially connected for this conversation.

PPS For in-person support with your pussywalk, we are doing a group Tango Adventure May 4-10 and we have one spot left!

Let’s talk about loneliness

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.

That’s why I was really glad when the therapist Laura Parker approached me and asked me to be a speaker in her online series Transforming Loneliness. 

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.

Register now to get access at www.transforming-loneliness-event.com.

Once you register you’ll get a reminder from Laura about my talk so you will be all set.

xo

Sasha

I Shared My Thoughts on All Things Tango

 

 

Joe Yang, a tango teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, recently interviewed me for Joe’s Tango Podcast. Joe’s podcast is for people who are who are starting to fall in love with the dance of tango and want to learn from different experts in the field. I share a bit of my own tango story and talked about my work combining tango and life coaching through the Tango Adventure and with my one-on-one coaching clients who take up tango. We talked about my tango writing too (right now, I’m deep at work on my memoir Wet, which is a journey of healing the effects of trauma through sensual experiences, so tango plays a big role in the story).

We literally talked about all things tango. Joe started off asking me the moment/s I knew I wanted tango would be a big part of my life, and we got to talking about advice I would give beginning dancers. I’ll give you a little teaser with an answer to that last question: RELAX! Relaxing and being in the moment is the most important piece of advice I would give. How do you relax? Many people want the answer to be a glass of wine. There is a better answer. Surrender to the hug.

Here’s some of the other stuff we talked about:

  • The transformative power of tango–tango has always been about way more than tango for me, and that’s how I teach it. Tango really is a mirror for our lives and how we operate in relationships
  • Advice for beginners to enjoy a milonga
  • The emotional roller coaster of being a beginning tango student (at least it was for me)
  • Tango teaching philosophies: when you let go of being perfect, learning tango can be fun and easy
  • The embrace! The essence of tango is the embrace; if you want to feel a true tango embrace, that’s a big reason to try tango in Buenos Aires
  • Tango communities–what makes them good and what makes them snobby (the dark side of tango)
  • Healing through tango! Tango’s healing power is really important to me. I’ve been exploring this topic for myself over the last seven years and using tango as a tool with my clients to heal the effects of sexual trauma in particular.

I shared a lot about the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires too! If you’re interested in joining us and want to learn a bit more, definitely give this podcast a listen. I explain to Joe how I first got the idea to start the Tango Adventure from my own experience of healing through tango in many ways. I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve collected through a week-long immersion in Buenos Aires.

With us, you can learn the true essence of tango that goes beyond steps and in many ways you just can’t learn that anywhere else but Buenos Aires.

Here’s the podcast to give it a listen!

 

Listen on iTunes: http://apple.co/2eOGdlc
Or Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/2zYANMk
Or Stitcher: http://bit.ly/2xNrUWA

Behind the Postcards on the Tangasm, Coaching, and Why I’ve Chosen South America over Silicon Valley for Now

BTP-insta-sasha

Chris Tyre over at the lovely blog Nomad + Camera interviewed me about why and how I chose to leave Silicon Valley tech stress for a more artistic life in South America. And how I got here. Plus you can read up on the tangasm. Why wouldn’t you want to read about that? Here’s the lovely Nomad + Camera interview that’s published today!

Chris Tyre interviews digital nomad types all over the world about how they have created new lives for themselves. The interviews are well worth reading.

Read the full interview here and read the other inspiring digital nomad stories too.

“Why We Make Lists” . . . on the BBC World Service

In the recording booth for the BBC World Service interview on lists!

In the recording booth for the BBC World Service interview on lists!

I will forever be fascinated with lists: why we make them, what they reveal about us, how they help us, and how they control us.

Listen to this beautiful 18-minute radio documentary “Why We Make Lists” from the BBC World Service here. And then when you want to read the lists I read out loud during the piece be sure to check out my book To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us.

The Secret to an Interesting Life

The secret to an interesting life is saying yes whenever possible. A strong, CLEAR no is important too. Without a strong no there is no yes.

But exercising your yes muscles even when you are fearful or in doubt will no doubt to lead to more magic and adventures. One thing leads to another.

Yesterday, my last day in Buenos Aires. I was packing and preparing for my friends to come over to watch the Argentina-Holland semifinal game when I got an email from a producer at HuffPost Live. His Argentine superfan had disappeared and he needed a fan from Buenos Aires to do a live chat faceoff with a Dutch fan.

He wanted blue and white face paint and an Argentina jersey for the interview, and I had to say, I don’t have those things! I was honest with him and I will be honest with you. I know very little about football. I am no superfan. I know more than most Americans, probably, because I was living in Rio de Janeiro four years ago for the World Cup (such wild passion), and I was in Argentina for this World Cup (such luck!). But I am by no means the person to tell you about “what we can expect from Messl” (the top player in Argentina and maybe the world) in the game.

Regardless, I said, “Sure, why not? But tell me what you are going to ask me.” In the next mail, I said, “Just don’t ask me about the players, ask me about the mood and the passion in Buenos AIres.” Cultural observation I can do. Connecting football to politics I can do. So I commented on the World Cup in HuffPost Live. My brother Dan is an actual sports reporter who covers the Boston Bruins and I found it amusing that now I can call myself a sports commentator too.

Watch my debut as a traveling sports reporter above.

What does saying yes to this opportunity mean? Who knows?

But it’s fun to say yes. It makes life more interesting and opens the door to more magic and adventures. When have you said yes?

By the way, I want to remind you I am teaching this one-day writing workshop Writing Your Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey at the San Francisco Writers Grotto Saturday, August 2.

Perhaps these are the stories of when you have said yes and what you learned. Would love to see you in this class to hear your story, whether you’re blogging, writing an essay or a book.

Check out the class details here and take advantage of this opportunity while I am back in the States!

Besos
Sasha

Spinsters, old maids, and changing ideas about being single on Quirkyalone Day 2013

Here’s me talking about spinsters, old maids, and how our ideas about being single have changed on this Quirkyalone Day 2013 on a wonderful hourlong NPR show out of Illinois. This was a great conversation with lots of smart callers calling in about cross-cultural ideas about singlehood and coupling, the birth rate, how we treat older people who live alone and how our society must step up to the plate to support them more, and much more.

The host asked me what would happen when I do find my soul mate. . . will this be the end of the road for quirkyalone?

I told him I will model quirkytogetherness with my partner. I talk about my ideal quirkytogether union at the end.

Here’s the show. Give it a listen and enjoy.

Our Lust for Lists

A journalist from Chile who works for La Tercera sent me interview questions for a story she is writing on lists (since I am the author of To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us and the “world’s leading todolistologist” :). Once her story is published, I will share it. I also thought I would share my answers with you. Especially because I am planning to offer an upcoming todolistology course; this might inspire you and you might want to join me. To stay in the loop and find out more about the course, please sign up here.

New Year’s Resolutions of a Brooklyn 16-Year-Old Girl, 1956

Why do we need to make checklists?
We make to-do lists because we would be lost without them. We have too many things to do to remember them all. Writing a list relieves anxiety because we record everything we have to remember and get done. Once it’s down on the list, we can stop worrying about it so much.

Why people still prefer the tactile experience of writing their lists with pen and paper?
Although I use an online to-do list program Things, I am still a huge believer in writing a list with pen and paper. Eighty-nine percent in my listmaker survey also prefer writing lists with pen and paper. The tactile experience of writing a list in your own handwriting is a chance to settle down and detach from the infinity of the Internet and settle into yourself, to feel more grounded. Now you are in own world, thinking about what you need to today, tomorrow, or in this lifetime.

A list written in your own handwriting is more personal, like a contract with yourself. It carries more weight. I accomplish a higher percentage of the items on my handwritten lists than my electronic ones. Plus when you handwrite you can doodle and be creative, and our lists are one of the everyday places where we can be creative.Read More