Weird, random use of “quirkyalone” in the New York Times! Or, Self-flagellation doesn’t work

My inbox started to explode Thursday afternoon.

My friend Tracy sent me a link: “Weird, random use of ‘quirkyalone'”

My father sent me a message: “Your word in headline type!”

A lot of acquaintances sent emails, “Hey this reminds me of your book.”

What was this all about? I was on my own writing retreat in Healdsburg, California, working on my memoir Wet when these emails flooded in.

The skinny: An essayist Tim Kreider wrote a New York Times Modern Love essay about his despair at finding love in the brutal New York City dating scene (which I’ve heard many times is very rough), and the despair he observed in his single friends.

The piece was titled “‘Quirkyalone’ Is Still Alone.”

Now this was strange. Every other time that the New York Times has used the word ‘quirkyalone’ in a news article, from 2003 to 2013, the reporter called me and we talked, and he or she got the definition right and cited me as the coiner of the word. Kreider conflated ‘quirkyalone’ with ‘happy single’ and said we quirkyalones are unicorns, we only exist in magazines. The meaning of the word that I created in a 700-word essay in 2000, and then in my book in 2004, is “a person who prefers to be single rather than settle.” We quirkyalones do exist and our numbers are growing!

I plan to take my time to write a full response to his essay, perhaps my own Modern Love essay, but for now, I want to share this piece with you and I welcome you to share your thoughts on the New York Times or with me in a comment or an email.

I will share a few thoughts here.

A longtime friend of mine (who actually was the first to read my original quirkyalone essay in 1999 before anyone else did) didn’t like the piece because she thought, “It’s basically like someone saying hey you single person, you want to think your life is every bit as good as the people in relationships (good relationships, that is) but really I’m here to tell you it’s not–it’s actually really lacking. I mean that may be the truth but it’s not really what I feel like reading right now so it’s just a personal thing I guess.”

I think my friend hits the nail on the head here. Any perspective that actually hurts when you feel it is probably not true at a deep level. How can we really compare one person’s unique life to another person’s unique life and say, this life is better? We are all on our own journey here. Another yogi friend of mine likes to say, “You’re on your mat. He/she’s on his mat.” The meaning is: don’t compare.

I appreciate a lot of the writing in the piece, but I think he draws a pretty erroneous conclusion that happiness and belonging happens through coupling.

In fact, I think we reach an important stage in our maturity when we realize that we are responsible for our own happiness, whether we’re single or in a relationship, quirkyalone or quirkytogether.

The most important thing you can do if you do want a loving, healthy partnership is to start with your relationship with yourself. To love and respect yourself. We are very good at being mean to ourselves, saying it’s our fault. I am writing about my own journey toward self-respect as a single woman in Wet, and in fact, I think these are the lessons that everyone needs to learn, woman or man, single or coupled. You can’t really be happy if you don’t respect yourself.

Cutting ourselves down for being single (messed-up, flawed, wrong, or living lesser lives than people in relationships) is something I have done too and most of my coaching clients have done. It’s the problem of being quirkyalone in this culture, thinking something is wrong with you when you’re single because we live in a couple-normative culture. The only way it could help is by causing so much pain that it gets you into desperate mode to change your habits and your way of thinking to then attract more love and connection into your life, but really, self-flagellation is usually not a successful strategy for change. It doesn’t help. I can’t get down with a perspective that makes single people feel bad for being single.

I am all for healthy relationships. I’m all for healthy singledom too. I’m not an advocate of lifelong singlehood for me or most quirkyalones either (most do want a partnership at some point, although some don’t). I certainly think we can grow in unique and important ways in the container of a healthy loving relationship when we have someone who is willing to be our mirror.

However, the magic starts when we connect with ourselves.

The trick is being our own best friend along the way.

I welcome your thoughts.
With love,
Sasha

P.S. Welcome to all the new subscribers who found my work because of Tim’s piece! Happy to have you on board with us!

Grace and Frankie is the New Golden Girls

the new odd couple, and the new golden girls

the new odd couple, and the new golden girls

A tip for you. . .

I just finished watching the first season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. I have to say, I think this is a very quirkyalone show!

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are playing born-again quirkyalones, for sure, who didn’t have a choice about the matter initially–their husbands dump them when they finally announce they are gay and in love! I also think this show is the new Golden Girls–older women cohabitating and supporting each other through love and life. If you read Quirkyalone, you know that I loved the Golden Girls and and asked each quirkyalone I interviewed to name his or her favorite Golden Girl.

I know from talking with many of you that Netflix can be a soul-sucking distraction from getting things done and getting out in the world. Netflix is the new addiction of our time. But, if you want to relax with some quirkyalone entertainment I wholeheartedly recommend Grace and Frankie.

The series gets better and better (as most do). . . so hang on if you don’t love it immediately. They cover all the important topics:
+ how to communicate to a clumsy male lover about how to touch you (this episode is gold)
+ the invisibility (or not) of these hot older ladies, plus, of course, vaginal dryness and wetness
+ how to break up with the really, really, really nice guy who is so hard to break up with but you’re just not into him

The show is a great exploration of the importance of female friendship, especially the friendship of two prickly women. In Quirkyalone, I dedicated a chapter to friendship, and write about the concept of the “Boston Marriage”–an arrangement where women friends live together platonically to support each other. Grace and Frankie are thrown into, and then developing, a Boston Marriage through the show.

What strikes me about the show is that we are always learning. . . these women in their seventies are tackling a lot of the same questions that women and men face in their twenties, just with more life experience under their belt. The learning and adventure never has to stop. Personally I’m much more interested in watching the shenanigans of 72-year-old women rather than 22-year-old women, just because, well, they have lived. And we don’t get to see the shenanigans of 72-year-old women enough.

Enjoy. . . and let me know what you think.

In my world. . . We are getting ready for the fifth TANGASM ADVENTURE in two weeks here in Buenos Aires with some awesome quirkyalone women coming. The dates are August 15-22. Just last night I got this message, “I just sent you a link from your website to see if I can possibly hop on the Argentina bandwagon in a couple of weeks. For many reasons, I have time available and just came across this. I would love to join the group. Is there any chance? I guess life is really short and I want to hop on this.” So if you too are a way last-minute planner, the answer is yes, we have two spots open. If that’s you fill this out TODAY to hop on the bandwagon!

With love,
Sasha

P.S. I’ll be back in the Bay Area in September and October. Stay tuned for stateside stuff.

How I Got Over My Single Shame

It can be scary for me to share my own story, but it’s also tremendously liberating to try to live a life without shame. Sharing my single shame story helps me to stand up straight and I know my story can be of service to others. So with that I am happy to share with you this awesome podcast with my friends Lindsay and Lani of Fuck Dating (“actually helpful banter about dating, relationships and all the bullshit and bliss that goes with them”) and you will hear me tell the story of how I got over my single shame and speak with honesty and vulnerability about my relationship history to a man that I was dating.

Shame is all about the secret. Accepting yourself is always the key. There is no way someone else can accept and love you if you don’t share with them who you really are. Just by talking about it with others, you break the secrecy. You can do that with a friend, a therapist, or with me first through one-on-one coaching. Breaking down the single shame so you can open up for the relationships you really want has become a huge focus of my coaching practice.

Single shame held me back from loving myself and truly connecting for many years. I don’t want that to be true for you.

Listen in to this podcast (click play above) and let us know what you think in a comment!

PS We also talk about how tango is is the perfect manifestation of quirkytogether in a dance. (You’ll hear how the awareness I gained through tango helped me to heal my shame and speak it out loud to a boyfriend.) Our next Quirky Heart Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires is May 23-30, so if you want to get your quirkyalone and quirkytogether on through dance, and become more confident on and off the dance floor, then come on down and join us.

The Best Alternative to Valentine’s Day. . . Wishing you a Very Happy Quirkyalone Day 2015!

I got a tweet the other day from a woman B. who said, @sashacagen Feb. 14 is worst day of the year for me. I’m just going to stay home, cry, and hide.

I responded, Why?

She said, It’s hard to celebrate being single when I’ve always been alone—I haven’t dated in years.

I told her I understood. This is one of the specialties of my coaching practice. . . working with people whose single shame or other “stuff” blocking them from dating and opening up to love. I won’t be a Pollyanna and tell you that it’s easy to move from that feeling of despair to celebration, especially if you do really want more love and connection and feel stuck. (If that’s you and you want dedicated coaching support to create what you really really want, then contact me.)

But I am going to urge B. and you to stop worrying about Valentine’s Day and celebrate Quirkyalone Day instead. Don’t sit at home and cry. Let your energy expand outward. Even if that means dancing in your underwear today in your living room for one song.

Come on, let’s take another perspective for a moment. This is awesome. . . we have the freedom in 2015 to create the lives we really want, single or coupled, rather than stay in so-so marriages because of economic need.

We can delight in our solitude.

We can celebrate our friendships.

We can connect with others authentically and tell them what they mean to us.

We can do whatever we want, and while freedom can be dizzying, it is a true privilege that many before us did not have.

Watch the above video greetings wishing you a very happy Quirkyalone Day. . .
Anja and I talk about:
– Quirkyalone Day vs. Valentine’s Day
– Cultural conditioning which still suggests we’re not complete until we have found the right partner
– How I help my clients work through their “single shame” to open up for dating and new relationships
– One important vow I made to myself in my self-marriage. Yes, I married myself (it’s an open marriage) and now I am helping others to do the same.
– Why the Germans are particularly suited to embrace the quirkyalone: They hate being normal.
– Why it’s important for us to resist the idea that the only happy ending for a book or movie is when girl meets boy (a la Eat Pray Love, Sex and the City, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and most women’s tales that tell us that this is the most important thing)

Ajna Shuetz and I recorded these Quirkyalone Day greetings for you yesterday. Anja is a fellow coach in Berlin, and she reached out in an awesomely spontaneous way to do this interview with me.

As the quirkyalone movement is building in Europe, quirkyalone is having a media moment in Germany. A German psychologist says in this story, “Society and misunderstood romance suggests that we can only be happy and complete with a partner. The American “Quirkyalone” trend–being single with passion–advocates a letting go of the couple-mania, though.”

Anja’s in Berlin, I’m in Buenos Aires getting ready to host a Tango Adventure for quirkyalones, and I know the majority of readers are in the U.S.

So feel the truly global quirkyalone vibes building this year. . . let that sink into your skin as you dance around your bedroom, or on the streets. . .

Tell us your thoughts on Quirkyalone Day vs. Valentine’s Day in the comments and how you will spend your day in celebration, even in the smallest of ways.

About Anja: Anja Schuetz coaches left-brained spiritual seekers in Berlin, Germany, who are beginning to wonder about the meaning of their life and work. With her new project Followyourjoy.de she aims to inspire you to live your life with more joy and aligned with your true nature. Interviewing experts on the subject of authenticity will be a large part of this project. If you’re German, sign up for her Sunday morning muse letters here: http://followyourjoy.de, otherwise check out Anja’s English website at http://anjaschuetz.net Follow Anja on social media: http://facebook.com/virtualanja & http://facebook.com/followyourjoy.de)

Seven Books to Read on Quirkyalone Day 2015

innerquirkycard

One of the best way you can celebrate International Quirkyalone Day (coming up on February 14) is to snuggle up with yourself and read a book.

You can throw a party, take a walk, buy yourself daisies (the symbolic flower of the quirkyalone movement) but definitely reading a book is an experience that takes you deep inside yourself.

So with this in mind, here are some suggestions for great books to read on Quirkyalone Day . . . Enjoy.

For starters, of course, there’s my first book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. If you identify as a quirkyalone and you have not read this book, what are you waiting for? This is the bible for those who prefer to be single rather than settle! If you didn’t read Sara Eckel’s book It’s Not You, you must.

Now, here’s a list of classics, new books that have inspired me lately with an authentic je ne sais quoi, as well as books that were written by quirkyalone readers!

For your reading pleasure . . .

The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum. . . they call her this generation’s Joan Didion. Her commitment to authenticity in her essays qualifies her for the Quirkyalone Writer Hall of Fame. You’ll love the whole book, but certainly the essay “The Best Possible Experience” is a quirkyalone classic where she debates the writer Lori Gottlieb who famously told women to settle for good enough (but wasn’t willing to do so herself). Read The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. . . a quirkyalone classic on living the questions and living patience for romantic love. Read Letters to a Young Poet.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles Blow. . . Charles Blow is an editorial writer for the New York Times. This exquisite book is an extremely gutsy memoir about his experiences of growing up in the South. How experiences of secret sexual abuse by an older cousin shaped him, how his experiences of bisexuality shaped him, and how he rose from poverty to become a designer and columnist. The honesty and the writing will blow you away. Read Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Now for some books from our community . . .

From Your Vision Board to Your Bedroom: Using the Law of Attraction to Find True Love by Susan Vittner. . . Sue has been a friend of mine since seventh grade and we taught the Quirkytogether 101 course together, a class we designed specifically for quirkyalones who want to get over their fear of losing themselves in relationship. She has written a fun and inspirational guide about falling in love with ourselves so we can become a match to what we desire in a partnership. The book is based on Sue’s experience of using Law of Attraction principles to manifest her partner. You can download the first chapter of Sue’s book here.

Being Single, with Cancer by Tracy Maxwell . . . Tracy is a quirkyalone woman who came to see me when I spoke in Boulder at the University of Colorado earlier this year. We connected on the topic of “single shame,” and what a heavy weight this can be on our quirkyalone spirits. Not only has Tracy survived single shame, she has survived cancer. She interviewed 100 single cancer patients and wrote this guide to surviving cancer when you’re single. This book is a great resource for anyone who is facing major health challenges as a single person. Read Being Single, with Cancer.

Do you have any books to recommend?

Add book suggestions here as a comment.

P.S. If you want to spread Quirkyalone Day, share the holiday with your friends on social media or via email. Here’s a page summarizing what IQD is all about.

There are also Quirkyalone (and Quirkytogether) cards here that you can send to friends.

International Quirkyalone Day 2015 Is Coming Up! Here’s How to Celebrate the Other Holiday on February 14

happyIQDcard

International Quirkyalone Day is coming up in just two weeks!

Save the date: Saturday, February 14. . .

International Quirkyalone Day just happens to fall on the same day as Valentine’s Day. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

I started International Quirkyalone Day back in 2003 and it’s an alternative holiday that has been celebrated in more than 40 cities around the world.

For those who are new to this holiday . . .

International Quirkyalone Day is a do-it-yourself celebration of romance, friendship, and independent spirit. It’s a celebration of all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and yes, self-love.

International Quirkyalone Day is not anti-Valentine’s Day.

It’s NOT a pity party for single people. It’s an alternative–a feel-good alternative to the marketing barrage of Valentine’s Day and an antidote to the silicone version of love presented in shows such as The Bachelor.

Above all, IQD is a celebration of romance, freedom and individuality. It celebrates true romance, independence, interdependence, creativity, friendship, and all kinds of love–including love for yourself.

IQD is a holiday you can celebrate whether you’re quirkyalone or quirkytogether.

Since this year I’m in Buenos Aires, I’m going to host a virtual IQD gathering on February 14 so everyone can come. I will be in touch with more details about the theme, when, where, etc. early this week.

But I want to alert you now because you may want to host your own celebration: solo, with friends, your partner, or the general public at a student center, cafe, bar, karaoke bar, whatever you want.

Here are some resources to get you going with your own grassroots celebration:

Quirkyalone Day Cards to share with friends, family–or with a quirkytogether partner (share this on social media or an invitation)

Nametags where guests can indicate if they are a quirkyalone, quirkytogether, quirkyslut, or in support of quirkyalones

Suggestions for what to do at your Quirkyalone Day party

Downloadable party pack of posters, nametags, etc.

So stay tuned for the information about this year’s virtual party.

In the meantime, let us know as a comment on this post if you are planning a party.

With love. . . and more soon on the virtual party I’ll be hosting. . .
Sasha

P.S. A thought! You could also celebrate Quirkyalone Day 2015 by coming to Buenos Aires to learn tango with other quirkyalones! There is just one more space in each trip February 21-28 and March 14-21. If that idea is calling to your quirky heart, go here!

Do what you love, and the partner will follow, a podcast with Nomadtopia

sashacagenturnedonlife

“Do what you love, and the partner will follow.” I wish someone had drilled that into my brain six years ago when I was stuck in a swamp of self-doubt, and I thought I needed to stay put in a life I did not enjoy, do the online dating treadmill, and meet a man before my expiration date made me unattractive (read: “unfertile.”)

That is why I want everyone who is single (or coupled) and questioning the best way to live their lives to listen to this podcast. My friend Amy Scott, the creator of Nomadtopia, interviewed me. Whether you have dreams of a location-independent lifestyle or not, listen in. We are talking about living the life you really want to lead and trusting that vitality and confidence will attract the people you are meant to meet. As opposed to sitting around and waiting to meet the “right partner” and then going off to live the life you want to lead.

Amy Scott is a writer and coach who helps people to create lives of freedom and adventure they really want. Amy has been on the location-independent path for over ten years. Amy and I first met when I was about to move to Buenos Aires. We have supported each other along the location-independent and quirkyalone paths. (Amy is married and I’m not, but we are both quirkyalones.)

Amy interviewed me for her Nomadtopia podcast, which is all about “real people living global lives,” sharing stories of inspiration so you can live and work wherever your heart desires. We talked about my the life churn I’m chronicling in my new book (in progress) Wet that led me to these realizations about doing what I love first, my Quirky Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires, the importance of leading the life you really want to lead and questioning societal packages–for example, getting married or buying a house doesn’t necessarily mean “settling down” and being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean being joined at the hip.

Here are some of my favorite parts, and be sure to give the entire podcast a listen.

Reclaiming quirkyalone: it’s about being happy on your own firstSasha: “The limited idea of quirkyalone I was running away from was that it’s just about being happy single. There can be this overreaction about reclaiming singlehood where people then flatten out the concept and think it’s just about being happy single. There are people who are totally committed to being single and that’s wonderful and appropriate because that’s how they feel, maybe they change their minds or not, that’s great, but that’s never what quirkyalone was about.”

“The word alone has 2,000 meanings. For me ‘alone’ means an independence of spirit and you approve of yourself. Classically when I came up with ‘quirkyalone’ it was about being willing to going to a wedding alone as opposed to with a date because going with a date is social convention. You’re willing to live your life and it goes to the level of Nomadtopia. You’re willing to leave your life and go off on this adventure alone because that is what you really want to do.”Read More

How Travel Can Be a Laboratory for Change

Today I am interviewed over on the website sharpheels about how travel can be a laboratory for change in your life.

Here is an excerpt. . .

“For women in business, banishing the feelings and pressures associated with biological clocks, settling, and relationships or the lack thereof, can be challenging. Embracing their quirkyaloneness through travel and tango could make strong women even stronger.

Keeping high standards and insisting on the best life possible is something that inspires Cagen, and she helps people traverse that journey. Her desire to bring quirkyalone people together has birthed the travel program, Quirky Tango Adventure. Participants join Cagen in Buenos Aires where they “use tango as a metaphor for growth and connection.” The tango is a dance requiring the pairing of partners who know their own space first so that they might relate and share that space with another. It combines a strong sense of self, power, and sensuality to which many powerful women can relate, but which some find elusive in their relationships.

How has travel molded you into the person you are today? Has it had a major influence on your career and personal life choices?
A big part of my business now is curating Tango Adventures for self-discovery, and I found my passion of tango through traveling. Ironically, I first discovered tango in Cali, Colombia, the world capital of salsa. That’s what traveling is all about, unlikely discoveries!

Traveling through South America alone for 14 months in my mid-thirties really made me who I am today. I got more comfortable with following my intuition and taking risks (two qualities I needed to start my own business). When I came back home, I was bolder and had the courage to try things I never would have done before. I learned so much about pleasure, passion, and enjoying life from the people I met in Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. There is a different quality of presence in these countries, and a different way of expressing love in the everyday.

You are an expert on being single, and call it the quirkyalone movement, can you tell us more about that?
When I was 25, I created the word “quirkyalone” as a way to describe myself and friends. I noticed that I had spent a long time being single, and so had they. I was also noticing imagery and stories in pop culture (Ally McBeal and Sex in the City) that spoke of another reality, of a group of women (and men) who preferred to be single and enjoy the freedom and friendships of that life rather than settle for a less than meaningful or satisfactory relationship.

The concept has become a lot more mainstream now, as being single has become more acceptable in the last ten years and it seems like common sense to not settle. However, being quirkyalone makes people feel like they are outside the norm because they hold out longer than a lot of people do. The concept provides important validation. Ultimately, being quirkyalone is not about being alone or being single. It’s about making a commitment to yourself first to not settle in your life or relationships, to stay connected to yourself and to fully enjoy the time you do spend single.

How can travel help women get back in touch with themselves?
I learned about a concept called liminality in a college anthropology class. Liminal zones are where the structures of the everyday are suspended and we get to discover something new about ourselves and the world. Travel is a liminal zone. When you travel, you step outside your everyday expectations. You leave behind the people you know and their expectations of you. You get a fresh canvas in the liminal zone to try new things and be a new version of yourself. This is a huge opportunity to get back in touch with the things that truly bring you alive and rediscover what you really want in life, and then, to bring that back home to your life—to recreate and layer in new things and ideas in your life.

Many people take my online classes and find courage to travel. Then they wind up changing their lives—for example, leaving a job they didn’t like anymore to start a business, or to then go live abroad. Travel is this huge laboratory for change in your life.

This is an excerpt–get more details on International Quirkyalone Day, my favorite travel destinations, and more. Click HERE to read the whole interview.

October 1 is the last day to get the early-bird discount on the February and March Tango Adventures, so if you are considering joining us in Buenos Aires, get in touch today.

Five Interpretations of Quirkyalone

I coined “quirkyalone” back in 2000 with a media-friendly definition. Quirkyalones are people who “enjoy being single (but are not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefer to be alone rather than date for the sake of being in a couple.” I have shared that definition everywhere from CNN, to USA Today, to this NPR in 2013.

That definition is great, but it’s just the soundbite version to scratch quirkyalone’s depths. For me and many others quirkyalone is not actually about being single at all, it’s an idea that is much larger than that; it’s about being connected to yourself when you are single or in a relationship. I must admit I get frustrated when people think quirkyalone is just about being single and conflate the two.

That’s one reason why, during the Tangasm Adventure, I was intrigued and delighted when Amanda suggested that we use one quirky connecting circle to each share our interpretation of “quirkyalone.” In a sense, hearing each person’s beautiful definition made me realize–OMG, the right people do get this is deep. Each person’s definition was unique, but they were all about a deep sense of home within oneself as a base for connection with others.

My definition that I shared: “If I take the pulse on quirkyalone right now, for me, it’s about freedom. Really feeling free to know who I am and what I want in my life outside of what it’s supposed to be. Honoring and respecting that, not rejecting traditional things, but really being in inquiry about what I really want. The piece that has become big over the last few years is the authentic piece, of being more vulnerable and real and having that come forward in all my relationships. There’s a big integrity piece. Being quirkyalone is about being honest, and the vitality that comes from being honest. It’s also difficult, it’s not an easy path, but it’s rewarding. My life is so different from many of my friends. I’m 40, I am writing a book about all my adventures and some of my friends will read that book and be jealous of me and I will be jealous of them sometimes, but my story is really true to me and what I chose.”

After I shared my definition each person in our group shared his or her definition. Here I am sharing four more with you via video and audio. Please enjoy. And I’m curious about your definition. Read below for how to share and join the conversation on the blog.

Amanda: Quirkyalone is about being yourself


Choice quote: “The alone part of quirkyalone doesn’t mean lonely. It means I’m happy being single, I’m happy being with somebody. The analogy to the tango dance, if you have two people who know who they are and who are independent and comfortable with who they are, the dance is going to be a lot more powerful than if you don’t know who you are and you collapse into each other without your individual structure.”

Jenny: “Entering into relationship with a lot more fullness and a lot more to offer”


Choice quote: “It’s a sense that you have to rely on yourself at all times, and when you seek partnership, especially romantic relationship, you do it for love and because you want to grow something . . . it’s really about being honest about what you want and how you pursue it. It’s only entering into relationship when you are doing it for true love and to have a great experience.”

Miles: As ancient civilization said, first of all be happy with yourself


Choice quote: “Quirkyalone is a connection to yourself that doesn’t mean being single. For me being quirkyalone means to have my own space and be really happy with that. If I have to force myself to be with someone because I need to, that’s not me. First, being very respectful for my own place, to know my quirks, and be happy with that, is a way of connection. As ancient civilization said, first of all be happy with yourself, try to understand yourself and it will be easier whatever comes. It’s not, I’m single, this is my flag, and I’m happy being single, for me, it’s I have my quirks, and this is really my space. I like to think of myself in a bubble, or a balloon, and there is a minimum space that is only mine, that I cannot share. If I am happy with that, then being quirkyalone with another can be possible.”

Nele: Quirky is being normal, being me. Alone means I allow it.


Choice quote: “Weird, or being quirky, is normal as I feel it. We say it’s different because it’s different from what we see around us. It’s being normal, being me. Alone means I myself allow it. I don’t need anyone telling me, yes you can be yourself. I can collect courage to say to myself, yes it’s fine what you do and feel good about it.”

Saying yes to your quest as a woman. Your heroine’s journey. And the Titanic.

where are you in the cycle?

where are you in the cycle?

Joseph Campbell is famous for telling us to follow our bliss. (Advice I can get behind.) He is also famous for his work in identifying the archetypal mythic structure in storytelling, the hero’s, or heroine’s journey, and the value of these journeys in our lives.

You can play the game of identifying the Hero’s Journey in popular movies like the Titanic, or you can find the elements in your own life. Each path is unique. He writes, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

I’m teaching a one-day writing class called the Heroine’s Journey this coming Saturday August 2. If you are working on a novel, memoir, an essay, or just wanting inspiration to dive into writing, you are invited. There are still a few spots.

If you are not a writer, these Hero/Heroine’s Journey concepts are valuable for you for your own life. And quite connected to quirkyalone. Especially for women. I’ve often thought that women more than men identify with quirkyalone because there are so few positive archetypes for a woman alone in our culture. And by alone, I don’t even mean single. I mean a woman who takes herself and her life seriously on its own terms–a life filled with meaningful quests.

Our culture is filled with stories of the hero, and not the heroine. In The Odyssey, Odysseus is tempted by sirens and Penelope waits at home for his return. In Harry Potter, Hermione is a sidekick. Other powerful male wanderers with wisdom to share: Jesus, Jack Kerouac, the Buddha, and so on. The list is endless. Who are the women? The woman herself does not go on a meaningful journey for her own sake, and if she does, the conclusion usually revolves around finding true love. (Think most romantic comedies or even the conclusion of Eat Pray Love.)

These are our culture’s stories, and our cultures stories reflect us. Justine Musk, a writer and creativity-inspirer, speaks in this TED talk about “the art of the deep yes” for women. What she calls the “deep yes” is self-worth–the idea of saying a big yes to yourself and what you are capable of in this life. This deep yes has all too often been lacking for women. This deep yes is what you need to embark on a heroine’s journey.

As Justine notes in her excellent talk, “Modesty is a feminine virtue.” Women are expected to have low self-esteem and put ourselves down. Playing yourself down is a strategy for getting people to like you, to make yourself “relatable.” Heaven knows I’ve done that. As she notes, women are usually the “wives, girlfriends, mistresses, vixens, femmes fatales in someone else’s epic story–usually a guy.” So what if you are the heroine of your own story? You as a woman are already stepping outside the cultural paradigm.

Maureen Murdock in her book The Heroine’s Journey suggests there is a unique journey for women.

Writing about my own “heroine’s journey” in my new book Wet has been so powerful because I knew I was directly struggling with the dominant idea that a woman’s primary role in life is to be a wife and mother–an enabler of others. To take the position that I could go on a quest for myself, and what I might bring back as an “elixir” for myself and others, has been quite radical. And fascinating. And great.

So that’s why I am so interested in the Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey. I’m interested in it as a writer, and I’m interested in more women seeing themselves on the path of a heroine’s journey.

There are still a few spaces open this Saturday, August 2.
Click HERE for class information for this Saturday’s live class on The Heroine’s Journey in San Francisco at the Writers’ Grotto.
+++http//sashacagen.com/writing-heroines-journey

Several people have written me to say, Hey, I don’t live in the Bay Area, would you do this class online? If you are interested, let me know, and if there’s a quorum, we’ll get that going.

See you on the path!
Sasha