Archive for the ‘dating after midlife’ Category

Spring Equinox Giveaway: Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir (Kindle edition)

March 20, 2013

Suza_Book_Cover_Front_Only(1) “You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them
they should have behaved better.”
—Anne Lamott

Spring Equinox Giveaway! For those who missed it the last time, the Kindle edition of Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir is free for five days: Wednesday, March 20, through Sunday, March 24, 2013.

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”
–Mark Twain


I want to direct people to Suza Francina’s engaging, honest story about a dating saga many women can relate to. With class and seriousness, but humor too, Suza exposes the experiences of dating at mid life and older, and the mistakes a woman makes when presented with charm that appears and disappears.
—Nancy Gross, editor, publisher, The Bubble

I think it’s great that you are going public with this, to warn other women but also so he can see what he looks like. No sense of bitterness or vengeance seeps into the story, so it does have this objective view to it. —Richard Laubly, educational consultant, Paris, France

New Reviews: 5.0 out of 5 stars A Service To All
By EmilyB – This review is from: Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir (Paperback)
Thank you for writing this book. I really enjoyed reading it and I think your honest and spiritual (and very human) approach is relatable and offers the reality of healing and growth after painful & traumatic experiences of the heart. This book is a service to all.

By Jenny (USA) —I really enjoyed this book! It was a good one that I couldn’t put down long. I’d keep thinking about it, wondering what was up and end up getting right back into it. It grabbed my attention from the very beginning.

(Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir is available at local bookstores, including Made in Ojai, The Rainbow Warehouse, Soul Centered, the Ojai Library, The Best of VC Marketplace, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores nationwide. All proceeds help the author feed her rescue animals.)

Stories about the book:

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir, How It All Looks a Year Later

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir, small town version of what goes on nationally

Suza_book_cover_on_trail_with_Honey       470591_10150741641279703_266408929_o467405_10150743640074703_301792493_o

The Road to Singledom

February 15, 2013

Last night, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I made a list of all the men in my life, going all the way back to my first boyfriend at age 15, the Catholic one up the street who set me on fire. That fire was promptly extinguished when my fanatical Pentecostal father told his Catholic father in no uncertain terms that I could not date a Catholic. My old dad confessed his part in this out of the blue a few years ago, adding remorsefully, “I should have let you go out with that young man. He was much better than the ones that came afterwards.”

It’s a long list—almost 50 years’ worth of relationships, including my first marriage at age 18 followed by two more . . . all the living-together arrangements—an endless stream of boyfriends, one after the other, with no real alone space in between. It’s total poetic justice that, after all that obsessing, the shocks, the crying, the heartbreak, the horrible suffering, after all the years of marriage counseling, couple retreats, untold books on relationship as a spiritual path, after all that incredible agony and awesome ecstasy, that I should now find myself not applying the wisdom I’ve gained to a relationship but to finally standing psychologically solid on my own two feet.

I sit here in my kitchen, sunlight streaming through the sliding glass door, ignoring yesterday’s dirty dishes, reveling in being alone. The writer in me remembers the thrill of hearing a delivery boy knock on the door to hand me a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a glass vase or pretty wicker basket, always with a festive ribbon and a little white envelope with a sweet message inside. Then later getting picked up in a red convertible and driving off full of hope and anticipation with a handsome-devil boyfriend, going off for the weekend to a romantic bed and breakfast . . .

I feel no need to burn the journals where I scribbled furiously in my efforts to make sense of it all. Once in a while I look at the love letters, photo albums, and romantic cards I’ve saved through the years . . . all these material reminders of past Valentine’s Days. If I had not had all these experiences, would I be this content alone? Everything that ever happened was a hard-won lesson on the road to peaceful singledom.


The School of Life

January 29, 2013

470591_10150741641279703_266408929_oIf this is the School of Life, and if we’re here on Earth to learn, and if every person we meet is our teacher, then what did I learn today from the people I encountered?

The day began with a phone call from a yoga student who lost a dog to bone cancer a few days ago. She told me the story of how a few years ago she had adopted two starving Rottweilers. The dogs, renamed Bonnie and Clyde, had been abandoned in a fenced backyard when their owner moved. By the time the two trapped dogs were rescued, they were skin and bones and in terrible shape. Bonnie and Clyde were inseparable buddies. My student called to say that she would be missing class because she could tell that Bonnie, the surviving dog, was depressed and mourning, and needed her to stay nearby.

I assured my student that staying home with her despondent dog was much more important than coming to class. Life is constantly reminding us that we do yoga to live—we don’t live to do yoga. We do yoga to help us cope with whatever life brings. And we do yoga to prepare for death.

When I got to Sacred Space Studio, a longtime student and friend that I hadn’t seen for about a year was waiting by the door. She asked, half kidding and half sheepish, “Can I come back to class?” “No!” I joked, “it’s too late.”

After class I remembered that she had stopped coming to yoga shortly after happily telling me that her boyfriend was moving in with her. I remembered how excited and optimistic she had been, describing how they were moving the furniture around to make space for him. So naturally I asked, “How are things going with the live-in boyfriend?”

“It was a total disaster, ” she replied. “I work all the time, on my days off I have my art, and on Sunday afternoon I need some quiet time. He was so needy . . . We’re still friends, but he had to move out. We still go out together, but he has to work on his stuff . . . I can’t do it for him.”

I would have been happy for her if things had worked out, but as it was, hearing her say “It was a disaster” reminded me of my own disasters that I’ve inadvertently averted. I drove home counting my blessings.

I know this is getting long, but I have to tell you about one more lesson today. As I was driving up the highway, just past the intersection of Cuyama and El Roblar, I saw a beautiful sight. A young couple with a big backpack, a guitar, a folded stroller, and a baby, hitchhiking. I took it all in as I flew past them. They were smiling confidently, each with one arm stretched straight toward the road, hand clenched, thumb up. I glanced up at my rear-view mirror and saw that the three cars behind me passed them, too. So what could I do? I haven’t forgotten my hippie roots. And I didn’t have the excuse of dogs in the back seat. So I pulled over, got out, and waved them over. As they ran toward me, I threw the dirty dog blankets in the trunk.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“Matilija Canyon,” they replied.

“Oh,” I said. “I’m only going as far as Fairview. Will that help you any?”

“Yes, that gets us closer . . .”

So we put the big guitar case and stroller in the trunk and squeezed the backpack, mom, dad, and baby in the back. (I had groceries and yoga props up front.)

As we drove off, I quizzed them. “Where are you from?”


“Oh,” I said. “I’m from Holland.”

“Oh, we’ve been to Holland.”

We exchanged names. I knew it would give them a kick if I mentioned I was a former mayor of Ojai, and sure enough, they thought that was a hoot. I could tell they were seasoned travelers . . . and they had a distinctly European vibe, like my relatives. They reminded me of myself, way back in 1968, when I was an optimistic teenager hitchhiking with my baby boy.

As we passed the Deer Lodge, I decided to take them at least part of the way into Matilija Canyon—an epic adventure. As we drove deeper into the mountains, they told me how much they love Ojai, how they felt safe here, how nice all the people are. As we entered the Canyon, the view was so breathtaking that I could feel my heart bursting and tears welling up inside. I made up my mind that I’d find ways to spend more days here, like I used to do decades ago . . .

“This is how we imagined California would be like . . . ” the couple repeated several times. “We love it here! We just love it here!”

Dr. Phil’s show on Facebook relationships: “Do an autopsy. . . .”

January 11, 2013

 Scan_Pic0018   January 1, 2013 (From my Writing Yoga Memoirs Facebook page)

Last Wednesday, while dog sitting for a friend, I happened to catch a Dr. Phil segment on the dangers of starting relationships on Facebook. The program featured three beautiful, educated, but very trusting and naive women who fell hook, line, and sinker for the man of their dreams, based solely on his Facebook persona. Dr. Phil, in his usual fatherly manner, totally nailed the duplicity involved. He said, “These kind of people have figured out what you need. . . they know your currency and how to play up to it. . . they engage in the most manipulative forms of deception. They are arrogant, have a sense of entitlement, and lack empathy. They have no guilt or remorse.” And then he went on to nail the red flags these women ignored. I totally got it. It was no coincidence that the antagonist in my book told me all sorts of sob stories about himself, including how he “almost died.” (If you want someone to cut you some slack, just tell them how you almost died a few months ago!)

Near the end of the show Dr. Phil adamantly advised, “Before you move on, even if you fell in love with someone who doesn’t really exist, you have got to sit down and do an autopsy. Do a timeline, do an inventory of exactly what happened. . .” Well, I did pat myself on the back when I heard this part because that’s exactly what I did by writing my Facebook memoir—an autopsy.

For new readers, look inside Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir


Yoga yakking

December 1, 2012
Yesterday we were yakking in the yoga room about life, and I mentioned that I’d had a date with a man twenty years younger.
  When I first began practicing with other teachers and students, I used to try to hush everyone up, but now I realize that this “yoga yakking” while opening the body can be enormously therapeutic and insightful.
  One of the teachers present told the story of her friend who married a man twenty years younger. “She’s now in her seventies. He’s in his fifties. They’ve been together twenty-five years, and they are the happiest, sweetest couple you’ve ever seen.”
  “Well,” I said, “If nothing else, this date with a younger man showed me I need to stretch the age range at both ends.”
  When I was in my fifties, I dated a man at the other end of the spectrum—a sophisticated filmmaker in his eighties. He was totally romantic, bought me flowers and beautiful clothes, and joked about sending me to finishing school and taking me to Italy. But, alas, when we went to dinner he ordered veal, and he still smoked pot and hash and scared the daylights out of me with his coughing and hacking . . .
  “My date went great,” I said enthusiastically. “He’s a really nice guy. Very responsible. Vegetarian. And he looked so shiny and clean. He’d just gotten out of the shower. Once we started talking, I forgot all about the age difference.
  “But I think I might have blown it. First of all, I didn’t have anything to wear. All my skirts have rips in them, so I just wore my yoga pants with a blouse and shawl. It was short notice. I should have postponed it. We went somewhere very casual. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and I wasn’t hungry. Just sipped some wine . . .”
  The rest of the story came out while we were opening our hips, stretching our legs, excavating the stiffness out of our shoulder joints, or hanging upside down.
  “It was so interesting,” I went on, “because the age difference seemed not to matter. He’s been divorced three years. Doesn’t strike me as a womanizer. Seems very straightforward, kind, and honest. I had only actually met him in person once, about six months ago. It never in a million years occurred to me that he might like to ask me out. He’s younger than my son! My daughter didn’t approve of me going on this date! We basically told each other bits and pieces of our past. Kind of like a job interview.
  “He told me the story of how he ended up moving to Ojai . . . asked me where I went to school . . . I told him how I had a baby when I was eighteen and that I went to Ventura College and got an Early Childhood Teaching Certificate because that was a job where I could take my toddler to work with me. I told him I did child care out of my home, worked at different nursery schools in town, and basically took care of kids from dawn to dusk.
  And then I heard myself say, “I thought I wanted to teach preschool for the rest of my life, but then when my son turned seven I didn’t want to see another kid as long as I lived!”
  I plum forgot that my young-man date had young children!
  I told my yoga confidantes, “I didn’t really mean it the way it sounded! I can’t remember if I told him that I had a daughter later in life or that I’m a grandaunt to a niece and five nephews! I love kids—really I do!”
  Truth be told, I didn’t want him to think I was some kind of cougar. We’d already joked about cougars before our date when he explained that he liked older women. For me, this was a first-time experiment. It’s in my Gemini nature to laugh and flirt, but as I sat across from this shiny clean young man —the kind I was not attracted to in my youth but was considering now—I noticed that the nun in me had the upper hand.
  Yes, I’d told myself that the age difference didn’t matter. The date was his idea, not mine. When he walked me to my car and, half jokingly, casually said something about me coming over to talk and have more wine, I’d never said no more quickly in my entire life!

My 45-year high school reunion—the Nordhoff Class of 1967

October 10, 2012

This past weekend was my 45-year high school reunion—the Nordhoff Class of 1967. I kick myself for missing the Friday night icebreaker at the Jester, but I was tired and all my adolescent neurosis and insecurity over not having the right thing to wear got the best of me. Besides, I told myself as I fell asleep, imagining my classmates laughing, drinking, partying, and having a good time without me, if I were dead, I wouldn’t be there either.

Saturday, after teaching, I made it to the Ya-Ya Sisterhood lunch at Suzanne’s. This was a tradition started by my friend Marcia Litoff. Sadly, Marcia was murdered about two years ago by her husband. I thought it was very touching, and respectful of her life, that two of her neighbors came to the reunion to represent her. For those of you not familiar with this tragedy, almost nine months passed from the time he killed her to the day the police were called to check on her. Her neighbor friends told us about the various plausible stories the husband told them to explain her absence. One of them recalled how she had felt sorry for him as he explained about their marital problems, and had given him a sympathetic hug.

Marcia would have wanted us to continue on with the fun and camaraderie of these annual luncheons, so in her honor we carried on. I was so myopic, shy, and introverted in my teen years that it still astounds me that I can now sit down with all these chatty, popular, cheerleader/homecoming princess/school mascot types and find things to yak about.

That evening I went to Boccali’s early, especially to catch up with classmates who had traveled long distances to be here. I sipped a glass of delicious organic red wine, soaked up the early evening ambiance and the amazing total unbelievableness that all these aging people gathering around were my old Ojai tribe.

Our lives pass in a flash . . . and you can imagine all the flashbacks. I mingled with older men that I first met in 1957, in second grade at San Antonio School. They now have their fathers’ faces. But I remember their sweaty boyhood faces, their crew cuts, their brown bags or Walt Disney lunch boxes—and whether their sandwiches were made with white or brown bread.

I admit that the first few decades they held these reunions I didn’t even think of going. The whole idea of reuniting with folks I felt I had, for the most part, nothing in common with filled me with dread. But now all those high school cliques have long disappeared and we are all in the same mortal boat. We talked about classmates who have died and the ones who couldn’t make it due to serious health struggles. We avoided politics and religion, and found common ground in the human condition.

For a while I sat at a table with all women, and soon the subject turned to husbands and dating. I had spotted several nice-looking men with friendly personalities. One of them came over to our table with a bouquet of flowers—for his wife. “I need to score some points,” he said as he leaned into our group.

Later I overheard one woman candidly confess that she was husband hunting. Her last husband had died a few years ago, and “I’ve been looking for a new one ever since,” she said. “It’s embarrassing, really,” she joked, “but I’m always looking!” She confided that she goes to online dating sites, and shared a few of her romantic adventures: “I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, but we were having fun . . . he was just looking for dinner dates with ‘happy endings’. . . six months later he went back to his old girlfriend.”

When I heard that, my ears perked up. I looked her in the eye and said, “You have to read my new book! I’ve been looking for you! You are my target audience!” I told her I was a writer and that I had the perfect present for her. I went to my car and got her a copy of Fishing on Facebook. When she saw the subtitle, A Writing Yoga Memoir, her face lit up, and she laughed and told me she was taking a memoir writing class. “This will encourage me!” she said.

I discovered that the gal sitting next to me had also had a baby in the year following graduation. As soon as I heard that, we were instant bosom buddies on a roll, comparing notes on sex, drugs, single motherhood, and how all those hours in the classroom (in spite of scandals like the teacher who got one of our classmates pregnant) did nothing to prepare us for the shock of Real Life.

We laughed about how we were honor students who ended up cleaning people’s houses. I told her how I had worked as a night janitor at the Thacher School. Turns out she was a housekeeper for Francis Ford Coppola, and didn’t recognize Michael Caine when he came to the door. (She went back to school after that job and got a late-life degree.)

Sipping a second glass of wine and eating the yummy Boccali’s garden veggies, pasta, pizza, and strawberry shortcake, we agreed that the most important thing to realize is this: no matter how we look on the outside—whether rich and famous or a homeless failure by society’s standards—deep inside, in our core, we are all the same.

Shopping at Vons: “Ingredients for life”

September 22, 2012

My little sister got married again yesterday. She found her new husband at Vons*. She said that she had prayed to God to help her find one. She told the Lord that she was tired of being single. On a Sunday morning, right after church, she went to Vons and decided to treat hubby hunting (I paraphrase here) like shopping. She would go up and down the aisles until she found the right one.

So on faith she looked all over the store. But she didn’t see any husband—or at least none that suited her fancy. But when she stepped outside, right there in the parking lot —lo and behold— there he was. She said she knew it instantly. He was on a motorcycle, wearing a cool black jacket and shades. She pointed her cart in his direction and walked her svelte figure in her Sunday heels right over to him.

She quickly determined they had a lot in common. He was a marathon runner and played the guitar. He said he restored motorcycles. That gave her the perfect excuse to ask for his phone number. “Oh,” she said, “I have a tenant who works on motorcycles. I’ll give him your number. . . ”

But most important, when she told him she’d just been to church, he said, “I’ve got to start going to church again. . . .” She knew her prayers had been answered when he confessed he was a believer too.

Naturally, I, as the older and wiser big sister, tried to get her to wait a few months, until that giddy head-over-heels-in-love feeling runs it’s course. But by the time I lured her into my yoga room to talk sense to her they’d already been to the courthouse for a license and to the jeweler for rings.

So yesterday, the day before the Autumnal Equinox, at 5:00 p.m., I found myself hiking up a steep winding mountain trail overlooking the ocean with the fittest wedding party you could ever hope to see. The groom’s buff runner friends sprinted ahead, carrying photo equipment, champagne, apple juice, and bouquets of flowers. The non-running friends and family members sweated our way to the top in the course of an hour, stopping to catch our breath and enjoy the spectacular view.

The Universal Life Church Minister wore a black-and-white spotted cow costume. (I kid you not!) My four-year grand niece kept staring at his udder, right at her eye-level. By way of explanation, when he made his appearance, he said “Holy Cow!” (But I was thinking of that expression, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”)

The bride and groom said the vows they had each written and I heard my sister promise to “submit to my husband” . . . . (i.e., at least two weeks.)

After the ceremony, I had three glasses of champagne mixed with a little apple juice. I lagged way behind the rest of the wedding party to revel in my aloneness as we made our way back down the mountain. As the sun set over the ocean I enjoyed my solitude and the magical effect of the sparkling “apple juice.”

Udderly unbelievable!

* For those of you who live beyond Ojai, Vons in a Southern California supermarket chain. Their motto is “Ingredients for life.”

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir, How It All Looks a Year Later

August 15, 2012

You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories.

If people wanted you to write warmly about them

they should have behaved better.

—Anne Lamott

Last night I reread the last two Chapters of my memoir for fun—not to catch errors—and I found myself laughing and thinking, “It’s so good!” (I don’t have a publicist, so please forgive  this momentary lapse in modesty.)

I wrote on my Facebook page, “Laugh if you like, but the way out is through! Don’t suppress your personal stories. Bring them out into the light of day. Write in your journal . . . talk with friends who are a few miles ahead of you on the road of life, find a therapist you resonate with . . . whatever it takes ! Memoirs provide an opportunity for  writers to share aspects of themselves not possible in casual conversation and sometimes not even in a formal therapeutic setting. I’ve learned so much about the human condition from the memoirs I’ve read. Maybe you’ll learn something from mine.”
A few hours later, I spotted the above quote by Anne Lamott. I said to myself,  “Every time the idealistic-yoga-zealot-guilty-goodie-two-shoes-pentecostal-christian-daughter and the writer get in a fight in my head over whether I should say something or not, I’m gonna pull that quote out of my hat!”
Ever since I first published a draft of Fishing on Facebook on the Ojai Post and my blog,, about a year and a half ago, I’ve gotten a steady stream of public comments and  private messages. I’ve heard secrets (from both strangers and friends I’ve known for many years) that they might not have felt safe to confide to me had they not read my story.
  After the paperback edition was published (in April 2012), on several occasions when I’ve walked in the door to teach a yoga class, students have told me that Fishing on Facebook was the most honest memoir they’ve ever read.  (Having read stacks of soul-bearing memoirs, I wouldn’t go that far, but I appreciate that they say this.) None of my fears around “What will my students think?” have materialized. On the contrary, they now feel more free to speak the truth about their own lives and share their own stories. Our social masks are falling away.

Here’s one excerpt from a yoga teacher’s response to my book, lightly edited to preserve her privacy:
Hi Suza,
We met many years ago at your studio. I would love to talk with you about your book. I have had the unfortunate experience of being involved with a yoga narcissist/ sociopath. It has been a long journey of dealing with him, and also with the yoga community embracing narcissism and this guy—and the others like him—and calling it spirituality.
In my case, he is a kirtan singer, welcomed into studios across the country and at yoga conferences to create “spiritual experiences” while being the antithesis of that behind the scenes. Plainly, he is a fraud. But for me to say this publicly—even to warn others—has not been a possibility.
I have had to retreat from the yoga community and watch while people make the choice to suspend their critical thinking and be drawn into what they want to be true.
I feel the yoga community is desperately in need of some self-reflection, looking at the hard things—not simply alienating the con-artists who prey on those seeking true spiritual insight, but questioning ourselves as a whole. Also, some self-defense against narcissists who find easy cover in spiritual disguises. As you know, even strong, smart, savvy women (and men) can fall prey.
Up to now I have mostly retreated from it as I watched yogi after yogi opt for star-power over integrity. It has broken my heart. I have been considering ways to confront this in a larger way within the yoga world as a whole. But I think now that others are coming forward with their experiences it may be the time to do something. (For example, teaching using the yamas* and niyamas *—ethical precepts—for self-empowerment to avoid narcissists. How to change your perspective without giving up your boundaries. Etc.)
As two people who have been around the world of yoga a long time before it was part of popular culture, I think it would be great if we could connect. Would you be open to sharing and hearing more about my experiences and thoughts? Maybe together and with others we could nudge this yoga life back from the “spiritual” precipice to be a bit more grounded. At least, maybe spare a few people from having to go through what we did.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for putting yourself out there so bravely. I know how hard it is, and I appreciate that you have.



Finding my balance in nature

   A few days ago someone asked, “So how do you tell a sociopath from a real emotionally available man (or woman)?” My response is that at first it may not be easy to tell the difference. Even professionals in the mental health and legal fields can be duped. Anyone who thinks they can’t be fooled hasn’t met one of these charming, often highly intelligent characters, often involved in all kinds of good causes, environmental activism, politics, and spiritual and religious endeavors.

But as far as the dating/relationship world is concerned, had I done a background check on the antagonist in my book I would have seen from the get-go that he was lying about certain aspects of his life. So first thing is check the facts—do not assume anything. Alas, as my book illustrates and as many of us have experienced, when we “fall in love,” we tend to resist the notion that the person looking into our eyes and nuzzling our neck could possibly be lying!
Just now as I was feeding my four-legged menagerie I was thinking I hope people don’t think I’m all doom and gloom with all these writings about relationships that could be interpreted as negative. I can honestly say I’ve never felt more liberated and empowered in my life. I have my moments when I’m weary of having to deal with flat tires, clogged drains, a hovel that’s falling apart, no one to walk the dogs but me, etc., but those moments pass. If there is such a thing as past lives, this might be the first incarnation in which it’s even possible for me to survive on my own and be the master of my own fate. Perhaps singlehood is a golden opportunity that has yet to be fully explored.


From the Afterword:
So, what have I learned from all this?
I now have a deeper understanding of why women, for the most part, don’t speak out. Or if they do speak out, why they often wait for years, till something pushes them over the edge.
We do not want to risk not being believed. Or being viewed as vindictive. Or appearing gullible and naive.
Society gives the man a pass and asks her, “Why were you so easily duped?” [or the woman, as the case may be]

Our culture tends to blame the victim—”You should have known better!”—rather than holding the liar accountable. We yogis and spiritual types dream of becoming enlightened by chanting, doing our asanas, our breathing
practices, walking in nature, doing good deeds and imagining
love and light.
In years of yoga workshops, meditation retreats and relationship counseling the term “pathological liar” never came up. Yoga and other spiritual practices have the potential for expanding consciousness and giving some semblance
of inner peace, but we are fooling ourselves if we run away from the darker side of life.
All my adult life, the mantra, “look for the good,” has been drummed into me. The problem with looking for the good is that too often we do so at the expense of denying the bad.
Our great psychological challenge, both in human relationships and the wider world, is to see what actually is, without projection, without the veil of illusion, and thus see the mixed bag that all human beings are.
Psychologists point to the universal desire to hear, see, and speak no evil.  The problem with that desire is that we fail to recognize the true nature of people we encounter in daily life. Sociopaths have a mask which is used to fool others and to make themselves, on the surface, look like they are good people.

For Reviews and to Look Inside the Book:
Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir is available at Made in Ojai, The Rainbow Warehouse, Soul Centered,  the Ojai Library, Barnes & Noble,  other bookstores, and*Yama and Niyama are the ethical precepts such as non-violence, non-stealing, and truthfulness set forth in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as the first and second of the eight limbs of yoga.  The practice of yoga begins with Yama and Niyama, and extends into asana and the other limbs of yoga.

Fishing On Facebook, Afterword and Resources

July 27, 2011

Update, May 31, 2012:

One of the benefits of self publishing is that you can make changes even after publication.  Last week I submitted a third round of corrections since publication on April 10, 2012 —mostly punctuation and grammar mistakes.

Here is a link to “Look Inside” the book which features the opening pages and excerpts from the Afterword and Resource section:

Update, December 23, 2011:

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir, will be available on, other sites and bookstores, April 2012.

The Afterword is being revised — again!

It’s the Friday before Thanksgiving. The writer in me can’t help but remember my sorry state of mind on this very day, exactly one year ago. It rained that night, and I felt sad and alone. An editor friend sent me this quote, that she knew I would like:

A thought for today:
A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
–Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986)


Suza Francina

Ojai, California

Suza Francina
Thank you, Writing Yoga author Bruce Black, for this auspicious quote:
A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. … As I sit at my table for days, months, years, slowly adding words to the empty pages, I feel as if I were bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way that one might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. … The writer’s secret is not inspiration for it is never clear where that comes from but stubbornness, endurance….
– Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize winner

Fishing on Facebook, Chapter Fourteen: Stick with Honey

May 18, 2011

A pathological liar is like a four year old kid, who tells you what happened to him down by the lake. Meanwhile, there’s no lake.

The important question here is this: does the pathological liar know he is lying?  Or does he believe his stories?  Is he lying, or is he delusional?

The answer is: both. Sort of.

He is not delusional, but he hovers in that half-world of the narcissist…where the lies are believed until he gets caught, but then– and this is the move that only a few can pull off– he acknowledges that the “facts” are lies, but not the essence, the spirit. 

— The Last Psychiatrist: Pathological Liars

This is Chapter Fourteen, the last Chapter of a true story. All of the names (except the author’s) and some of the locations have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, depending on your perspective. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Full Moon in Scorpio.

Six weeks have gone by since I started writing this story in April. I thought I had made a clean break. Except for those last phone calls a few hours after we broke up at the Garden Terrace Restaurant on March 10th, there was no more communication between Adam and I. No phone calls, no e-mails, no Facebook messages or comments, not even a “Like.”

OK, I confess I did a peek at Adam’s Facebook page and saw that a few days after our break up he was back fishing in full swing: “I’m going to a potluck tomorrow. Anybody have an easy casserole recipe?” Seven sirens took the bait and posted easy cheesy dishes complete with shopping and baking hints, no doubt imagining Adam in his bachelor kitchen, all alone, just as I did.

It’s a good thing none of them asked if they could come along. Because there was no potluck “tomorrow.”

How do I know there was no potluck?

Because, toward the end of the time that I was dating Adam, I gradually came to realize that he was describing events on Facebook that did not actually take place in real time, similar to the emails he sent me at Christmas and New Years where he described his out of town trips. Because of my friendship with Diane, I could now do a reality check. If he posted he was going to a potluck, for example, she would observe him and report whether or not he even left the house at the time of the event in question.

Women were still falling hook line and sinker, just as I did.

Think you’d never fall for a guy like Adam? Think again. How about this one:

Spent the morning in meditation in the gardens at Krotona Hill, in Ojai. It was so quiet and peaceful. I let the beauty of the natural surroundings soak in and let my spirit wander.

Sounds sweet, doesn’t it ? Only problem is, again, he wasn’t there. Yes, he was there another time, so the spirit of the Comment is true. But on this particular day Adam never left the house. Diane confirmed that he was home the morning of the date in question.

If you think you would not be fooled, think again. Men like Adam are charming and have the gift of gab. We not only fall for them, we vote them into office. Adam was elected by the people, four times, so far. I have no doubt that if he runs again, he will schmooze his way to victory. Diane tells me that a few months ago he told her he pulled papers to run for office. When she asked him, “What if the voters find out about your past with women, “ he just shrugged and said, “The American people are forgiving. They don’t really care about personal stuff like that. “

When I told her that it was way too early to file papers for the seat in question (I called County Elections to verify this) she said, “Even after all this time, he fools me.”

Adam’s transgressions are small potatoes next to the Arnold’s and Edward’s of the world.

The patriarchy gives them all a pass.

As for me, if it wasn’t for my journals and journalistic habit of saving letters, and my new friendship with Diane, I might have dropped Adam into the cellar of my unconscious and locked the door. I deliberately avoided certain meetings and green type events, and hoped I wouldn’t bump into him anywhere, not even on the astral plane.

His letters were so beautifully written that two weeks after I broke up with him I was still asking Diane if such and such incident was really something he just pulled out of thin air such as leaving town for Christmas and New Years.

I just could not accept that a man who opened his Love Letters with “My Dearest Suza,” could be lying through his teeth.

It did not help when my women friends tried to console me by saying, “Anyone would have been fooled by him, Suza.”

Only one friend was totally unsympathetic. She said, “Stick with Honey.”

And through it all, my friendship with Diane flourished:

On Saturday, March 26, I emailed:

Thank you, Diane, I really appreciate all your messages. I realize that I’m not completely recovered yet. I still get mad when I think about all the lies. I do not speak to Adam because he has created a situation where I no longer know  what to believe. Now even if he is telling the truth I am apt to think he is lying.  I no longer give him the benefit of a doubt.

Diane replied:

Of course you are not completely recovered from this situation.  It will haunt you for months and months.  You were lied to, taken advantage, and fell in love.  You can’t expect to recover overnight.  The worst part is that you need to get rid of these feelings before you can move on.  I am so sorry this is happening to you, you are such a sweet lovely person. 

And I replied that same day:

The worst lie Adam told was that he does not lie. He swore the story about you and your house  was an isolated incident. And that he would not lie in the future!


I think I also feel humiliated that I was not more suspicious of him and introduced him to many friends. It strikes me as so mean on his part because so much of my trust in him was based on us having this long Ojai history.  We know so many of the same people.


The next day, Sunday, March 27, Diane wrote:

You cannot let your experience with him keep you from doing what you love the most.  It was not your fault, you were a very trusting person, .  Let people know the truth. Believe me, so many of us have been duped by men.  We all have had bad experiences.

Women understand these things — that some men are just creeps.  You have nothing to be ashamed of Suza, you are a very trusting, loving, and kind person.  I hope that one of these days you will find someone that deserves you. 

Believe me, before Adam finds someone and is happy with her, he has a lot of changing to do.  Will he do that? I don’t know but it is not our problem.  He has been doing this for a long time, decades.  He has to face his own problems and want to change.  You can only lead a horse to water you cannot make him drink. 

It is really sad because Adam loves plants, animals, the earth, and all the things that nature brings to this world, but he doesn’t like himself.  There is nothing we can do to help him unless he wants to help himself.  He has had a lot of time to do that and still he continues down the same old path. 

When will he stop using women and start liking himself?

  I wish you would share your experience with your women friends.

* * * *

Then, wham, three days after this email exchange with Diane, out of the blue, I saw Adam’s cell number on my land line call-waiting screen. I did not take the call. A few minutes later it popped up again. Still did not take it. Just kept right on yakking with one of my honest women friends.

A few minutes later, I heard my cell phone ring. When I played it later, there was a message from Adam. True to form, it had a hook.

Hi Suza, this is Adam. I just finished giving a talk on the environment at Moorpark College…“

He was all ready to make nice.

I could not risk returning his call. But I was curious if he’d followed up on our last conversation three weeks ago about getting some therapy for his lying.

I emailed Diane:

Adam just called out of the blue and left a message saying he just gave a talk…

She wrote back:

He did? Look out! Why do you think he is using that environmental talk as an opening?

On Thursday, March 30, at 6 am, I wrote:


I was on the phone when you called my land line. Got your message on my cell .

I am still grieving and it is too painful to talk to you. It will take me some time to process the fact that by lying to me you also stole from me. You think you are honest because you don’t steal money but by pretending to be someone you are not you stole my trust, my time and my affection.


Please let me know if you’ve gotten counseling or therapy about your lying. Pathological lying is like alcoholism and drug addiction. You are in denial as to the seriousness of your illness, just like an alcoholic is in denial. 


The last time we spoke you said you would get help.

Half hour later Adam sent the following reply:


Hi Suza:

My first therapy session is scheduled for next week.

I hope that you will take some time to enjoy the season of spring.  There is so much beauty out there right now.  Do you know I counted over thirty wildflower species over in the Casitas Watershed area?

If you can get away from Ojai for a day trip, you must see the hundreds of acres of wildflower meadows up at Fogueroa Mountain (north of Solvang), or the upper desert carpeted with orange California poppies at the Antelope Valley poppy Preserve.




Well that made me mad. Forget about the wildflowers. I did not believe for one minute that he had scheduled a first therapy session next week.

Two can play this game. I fired back:

Adam, please  tell me more about where you are having your first therapy session. The date, time, place, etc.


You must realize that without this information  I cannot believe you.


When I wrote this email I also mentioned that I questioned some of the “facts,” he had noted in one of his recent editorials.

That evening Adam sent the following reply:

Hi Suza:

My therapy will be done through the Santa Barbara County Mental Health Department. (That’s where I have my medical insurance). The staff said they will call me this coming Monday to schedule my first session on either Tuesday or Thursday, after my work hours.

People may have gotten the wrong impression from that comment in my editorial. I need to be more careful in how I speak and write, giving wrong impressions. I am trying to learn.

And ever the master at distracting me, he added:

How did your event at WordFest go for you?



OK. I’ll play along. I ignored his WordFest question and wrote back:

I look forward to hearing about your first therapy session next Tuesday  or Thursday.

Let me know the name of your therapist and how it goes.

In addition to all the emotional pain that your lies have caused,  the other tragedy is that even when you are telling the truth, people will think you are lying.

It took a few hours for Adam to dream up an answer but when he did, it was a killer.

Hi Suza:

I hope that all is well with you up in the Ojai Valley. 

When I called you the other night, I was only calling to see how you were doing.  It was not a call to try and get you to believe or not believe anything I am doing. We both know that is hopeless. 

If we had talked I would have kept the conversation on lights things, like how you did at WordFest,, the weather, spring flowers in the valley, etc.

I do not feel comfortable  sharing with you any information about my therapy meeting location, therapists name,etc.

One night after your meeting with Diane, she shared a few things with me about your meeting. ( It was interesting how you both had totally different versions of your meetings, oh how us humans have a different perspective on exactly the same thing). 

Diane said she thought that you might be a vindictive woman over all of this and she seemed upset that I had told you where my new job was. 

She thought you might try to do something to wreck the job for me.  She also said you know where she lives.

Since we both trust Diane I have to believe her, So in the back of my mind I am thinking, why does Suza want this information and how will she use it (or perhaps use it against me). 

I do believe that mental health information is private.  But I will be happy to give you a general overview of my therapy.

 And since I understand that you will not believe that I will attend sessions, I thought you or I, or both of us, could ask Diane (again we both trust her, and you did tell me you were becoming good friends) that once I get started, to meet me at one of my sessions and watch me walk into the therapist’s office. 

This way Diane could report to you that I did go in. 

But she would not reveal to you the location or name of the therapist.

Again I am not doing any of this to get you to believe or not believe me.  We both know that is hopeless. 

The therapy is for myself.

There is something that you did tell me once about all this.  You said if I just told the truth, that it would be no big thing to people.  Instead of something I thought was shameful and negative. 

So while meeting several new women over the past couple of weeks, when it was appropriate, in the conversation, I mentioned that I have been married before. I also explained that I live with Diane. 

And you are right. Nobody thinks it’s a big deal. 

How refreshing!

Thank you for that.

Enjoy this lovely spring,


Now the blinders were really off!

I saw Adam as a cold, cruel, calculating predator.

I told Diane:

Now I am seeing  a really cruel  streak in him. He is like a person that stabs you in the heart and then smiles and says, “Enjoy spring … enjoy the beautiful wildflowers…” 


His killer Letter just about did me in! 

I was livid!  

All my yoga and Krishnamurti peace & love good Christian philosophy flew out the window. Every button in my psyche was pushed to the max.

Adam’s lying about getting therapy for his lying, accusing me of “fatal attraction,” stalking him at his home and job, and telling me all these other women didn’t think it was any big deal that he lived with Diane (“how refreshing”) so infuriated and enraged me it took every bit of restraint I could muster not to blast him on his lying Facebook page.

I wanted to throttle the daylight out of him.

I wanted to wring his sun-kissed neck, the same neck that I nuzzled up to at Beatrice Wood’s garden when I thought he was some kind of groovy outdoorsy woodsy nature loving eligible enlightened bachelor only a few months ago.

My John Muir man was worse than a total impostor! A man my friend Macy dubs as a “Pretend Man.”

It makes me sick to think I kissed his lying lips right in Beatrice Wood’s front yard.

How could I forget Beto’s hard-won wisdom, “All men are bastards*.”

I should have branded that quote on my quadriceps.

What could I do at the end of this absurd exchange but laugh!

It was the only weapon I could use without getting arrested.

It took every ounce of will-power to keep from doing something crazy and vindictive.

I had to lie down in the Goddess Pose.

I managed to respond to his email. I planned to then send his emails to Diane. I would not have done this had he not lied about what she said.

On Saturday, April 2, the day before I started writing this story, I wrote:

In your own words at Meditation Mount, you have “taken my heart and squashed it.” 

 To now accuse me of doing something to wreck your job when I shared in your happiness and expressed my support, even after we broke up,  is beyond cruel.

I spent hours working on your resume and wrote letters recommending you to my friends for work. Have you forgotten this?


I will ask Diane to verify that you are getting therapy.

Adam was incorrigible. A few hours later he wrote back:

Subject line: This is getting interesting



  I, (me-Adam) did not say you would do something bad about my new job. It was just a concern Diane expressed to me about you. 

I trust her, don’t you? She mentioned the term “fatal attraction,” so she might have been thinking along those lines.


  I mentioned to Diane that you would call her to get things straightened out.


I am curious, since you and I no longer have any relationship or ever will in the future (you could not or should not  ever trust me again) why do you care what I do in life, therapy, job,etc.?


Don’t you believe in moving on?


Enjoy spring,



As you can imagine, I flew even further over the edge. Adam was like some demon stabbing me in the heart, all the while smiling and saying, “Enjoy spring.”

What a jerk!

I should have disconnected my phone and internet service right then and there.

Instead, I wrote back:

May I remind you that I did not call you. You called me.

 Your definition of “moving on” is “move on to the next woman and play the same game over and over again.”


It takes time to heal when someone you trust and bare your soul to betrays you.


I asked if you were getting therapy to help determine whether or not I might speak to you in person. And to see if you kept your word.

Adam, unruffled, wrote back:

Subject line: A simple phone call



  Yes, you are right. I did call you.  But, as I said in an earlier email, my phone call was just to see how you were doing, not to try to get you to meet me or believe me in any way. 

As I said, had we actually talked I would have kept the conversation light.


  I had no idea that a simple call would have generated all of these emails between us.


Again that is not what I wanted. Out of respect,  I will not contact you again.




  I could not leave this world without writing back one more time:

I’m sad to say that the fact that you think that you can make a “simple” phone call only tells me that you have not really reflected on the consequences of your actions.

 I don’t want to make light conversation with a man who has lied to me until he has demonstrated that he understands the emotional havoc his duplicity caused.

 It saddens me deeply that after all we have been through you would actually lie to me about getting therapy for lying.

 In spite of it all, I am a human being with deep compassion for other people. I hope you get the help you need. Your lies are tainting your work for the environment and wildlife.

 I would like to know how your work is going and miss our meaningful talks But it is just too painful to talk to you under the present circumstances.

A little later I forwarded Diane our insane exchange:.
Subject: Adam’s reply. Tell me if you actually said any of this!

She wrote back:

I did not say that.  As you may or may not have noticed he did not cite any examples.  Good try Adam!!!  This therapy cannot begin soon enough.  You need to stop e-mailing him, the animals can take care of themselves.

Later Diane and I discussed all this. She reminded me how laughable his accusations were. Her home address is listed in the phone book and on the internet. Adam seems to have forgotten that when we first met he told me that he had a problem with women stalking him.  I’ve never even driven past their house.

  On Sunday April 3, the day I began writing this story, Diane wrote:

I was watching TV with my mother and I kept thinking about his e-mail to you. 

I never said that you could be vindictive and call about his job.  

Adam told me that you were the one that wanted me to follow him to his therapy session and watch him go in. 

I told him ‘No” I would do no such thing!

He has no appointment for therapy. And if he did, how could it work? He would lie to the therapist.

Suza, we did not have different stories about our conversation over breakfast at Coffee Emporium  He is making this all up. I don’t know why. 


And now, at last, we come to the end of the story. Now you know what pushed me over the edge, why I wrote in Chapter One, on April 3, 2011:

Yesterday I got so mad that I ran into Rainbow Bridge and bought two slices of Raw Vegan Cheesecake, the only real treat on the Planet with no calories. And a bottle of Pacific Redwood Organic Red Mendocino Wine, the least expensive bottle on the shelf. While unlocking my E-bike, I overheard two women talking about how men in their age range (50 to 100) are now looking for women to support them. One said that the last man who left her hooked up with a woman who owns a lot of property and she got him to marry her by putting his name on the deed.

I zoomed home on my E bike, sat under a tree and slowly devoured the first piece, labeled “Find your thrill on blueberry hill.” Right away I felt better. I decided to save the wine for a future emergency and fortified myself with a few more bites of the second piece, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Then I went back inside my little apartment, laid down on my yoga bolster with the soles of my feet together in the Goddess Pose, and waited for my emotions to calm down.

And then I reached for my journal and began this story:

About five months ago, on November 19, 2010, I wrote:

Today I dipped my toe into the muddy waters of relationships. I hardly know this man and already he is causing trouble and disturbing my tranquility. The only way I’m going survive seeing him and not drown in a pool of unconsciousness and all my primal sexual longing, hopes and projections, is to write about it everyday…

May we live like the lotus, at home in muddy water. — Buddha

Still to come: Afterword

Three things cannot be hidden; the sun, the moon and the truth. — Buddha

*Note: Beato’s infamous observation, expressed in the heat of the moment, is not mean to be taken literally!

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