Posts Tagged ‘dating at midlife and older’

A snippet from the years with Dr. Holistic Health

July 27, 2014
July 16, 2014
On my second date with Dr. Holistic Health (we’ll call him Ben), I galloped right past every red flag—for the first date had seemed to solidify everything I wanted to see. The first time he came to visit me in my little cabin in Ojai, he brought along his son, Alex, and daughter, Erica, ages ten and eight, which only further endeared him to me. Not only was this alternative doctor rich, successful, and movie-star-handsome, he was a loving, caring dad!
                      They arrived in a white convertible, windblown and laughing, on a warm Saturday afternoon. The kids hopped out and, after some brief introductions while looking dad’s potential new girlfriend up and down, wasted no time in running around the yard, checking out the rope swing, and making a hands-on inspection of my tiny two-room hovel. They noticed the sprouts growing in jars on my kitchen counter, the juicer with scrubbed carrots lined up and ready to go (I knew they’d be sold on me if I let them make fresh carrot and apple juice), my futon bed on the floor, and the green metal freestanding fireplace contraption.”How does the smoke get out?” they wanted to know.Strangest of all to their young eyes accustomed to a world of privilege was my clothesline with a row of yoga shorts, tops, and tights pinned with wooden clothes pins (Alex took one apart to see how it worked).Near the clothesline, they spotted a wooden rack on which some towels were drying. “What’s that, Dad?” they asked. After “Dad” laughingly explained that Suza dried her clothes in the sun, they solemnly asked, “You mean she doesn’t have a dryer?”And, most amazing of all, there was no TV. I later found out that on the drive home the kids had been very concerned. After some discussion between themselves, they cautiously told him, “Dad, we don’t know how to tell you this, but Suza is VERY poor . . . ” Ben joked to me that, to his children, in contrast to their three-story spread with a pool and four cars in the garage, visiting Suza in Ojai was like going to a Third World country. At least I did have a flush toilet and running water . . .

On this foggy morning, I thought about all that while I was shoving a table toward a window and setting up another box fan to blow the cool morning air into the house.

I want to be fully present while I’m straightening up the yoga room, washing last night’s dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning up the dog poop . . . But as the days fly by, I have to ask myself, “Where is this all going? Am I just a bag of bones and memories?”

Maybe this is all whirling in my head even more than usual, as I just finished reading Dying to Be Me, in which the author describes her near-death experience when she all at once saw everything that had ever happened to her. So why not while still alive? Everywhere I look, I see my own past—the stages of life that I’ve moved through—and my own potential future.

For all intents and purposes, I’m now in the nun stage of life. The days of dating doctors who sniff “nose candy” and drop Ecstasy in my orange juice are behind me. It’s my turn to step back and observe, and to learn from those who are still on the sex-and-romance merry-go-round. I joke about donning some kind of maroon robe; it would probably be good for my business. According to the yogic tradition, at this age I’m done with my householder child-raising and wifely duties, and I can now disappear into the forest. If there were a monastery that welcomed dogs, where I could earn my keep teaching yoga and peeling potatoes, I’d gladly move in and take a break from worldly responsibilities.

But I wouldn’t take any vows of poverty or chastity. I always like the option of changing my mind.

* * *
Photo by Ruth Miller: Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), a gentle inversion that teaches us to let go and also how to revive ourselves. This is sublime yoga medicine for the beginning and end of the day. It aids the return of blood from the legs to the heart and the circulation of lymph fluid throughout the body. It helps relieve stress headaches, stabilizes blood pressure, and feels wonderful for the internal organs. Above all, with steady practice it gives us a taste of divine rest.

Photo: On my second date with Dr. Holistic Health (we'll call him Ben), I galloped right past every red flag—for the first date had seemed to solidify everything I wanted to see. The first time he came to visit me in my little cabin in Ojai, he brought along his son, Alex, and daughter, Erica, ages ten and eight, which only further endeared him to me. Not only was this alternative doctor rich, successful, and movie-star-handsome, he was a loving, caring dad! </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>On a warm Saturday afternoon, they arrived windblown and laughing in a white convertible. The kids hopped out and, after some brief introductions while looking dad's potential new girlfriend up and down, wasted no time in running around the yard, checking out the rope swing, and making a hands-on inspection of my tiny two-room hovel. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>They noticed the sprouts growing in jars on my kitchen counter, the juicer with scrubbed carrots lined up and ready to go (I knew they'd be sold on me if I let them make fresh carrot and apple juice), my futon bed on the floor, and the green metal freestanding fireplace contraption. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"How does the smoke get out?" they wanted to know. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Strangest of all to their young eyes accustomed to a world of privilege was my clothesline with a row of yoga shorts, tops, and tights pinned with wooden clothes pins (Alex took one apart to see how it worked). </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Near the clothesline, they spotted a wooden rack on which some towels were drying. "What's that, Dad?" they asked. After “Dad" laughingly explained that Suza dried her clothes in the sun, they solemnly asked, "You mean she doesn't have a dryer?” </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>And, most amazing of all, there was no TV. I later found out that on the drive home the kids had been very concerned. After some discussion between themselves, they cautiously told him, "Dad, we don't know how to tell you this, but Suza is VERY poor . . . " Ben joked to me that, to his children, in contrast to their three-story spread with a pool and four cars in the garage, visiting Suza in Ojai was like going to a Third World country. At least I did have a flush toilet and running water . . . </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>On this foggy morning, I thought about all that while I was shoving a table toward a window and setting up another box fan to blow the cool morning air into the house. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>I want to be fully present while I’m straightening up the yoga room, washing last night's dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning up the dog poop . . . But as the days fly by, I have to ask myself, "Where is this all going? Am I just a bag of bones and memories?” </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Maybe this is all whirling in my head even more than usual, as I just finished reading Dying to Be Me, in which the author describes her near-death experience when she all at once saw everything that had ever happened to her. So why not while still alive? Everywhere I look, I see my own past---the stages of life that I've moved through---and my own potential future.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>For all intents and purposes, I'm now in the nun stage of life. The days of dating doctors who sniff "nose candy" and drop Ecstasy in my orange juice are behind me. It's my turn to step back and observe, and to learn from those who are still on the sex-and-romance merry-go-round. I joke about donning some kind of maroon robe; it would probably be good for my business. According to the yogic tradition, at this age I'm done with my householder child-raising and wifely duties, and I can now disappear into the forest. If there were a monastery that welcomed dogs, where I could earn my keep teaching yoga and peeling potatoes, I’d gladly move in and take a break from worldly responsibilities. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>But I wouldn't take any vows of poverty or chastity. I always like the option of changing my mind.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>* * *<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Photo by Ruth Miller: Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), a gentle inversion that teaches us to let go and also how to revive ourselves. This is sublime yoga medicine for the beginning and end of the day. It aids the return of blood from the legs to the heart and the circulation of lymph fluid throughout the  body. It helps relieve stress headaches, stabilizes blood pressure, and feels wonderful for the internal organs. Above all, with steady practice it gives us a taste of divine rest.

The irony and absurdity of life never ends, does it?

May 15, 2014

s3The irony and absurdity of life never ends, does it? On Tuesday mornings its my turn to help my mom clean her teeth, eat breakfast (fresh fruit like cut-up papaya or sliced oranges, and later something more substantial like an egg on toast prepared the Dutch way, slathered in organic raw butter; my vegan sensibilities are foreign to her), rinse her mouth after breakfast, and get her out of her comfy pajamas into some fresh underwear, including mandatory undershirt, and also blouse and pants or a favorite dress.
When I question the need for an undershirt on a hot day, she always says, “Ik voel me naakt als ik niets onder me jurk draag,” meaning, “I feel naked without an undershirt or slip under my dress.”
The whole shebang takes about two hours and includes a pleasant interlude of our listening to her favorite classical music station while I sit on the floor stretching in various seated forward bends and hip openers.
s6I noticed this morning that my mother has finally given up on telling me that “sitting like that is not lady like.” While I’m attending to my mom, my old dad is usually outside basking in the early morning sun. I can spy on him through the kitchen window, which gives me ample time to cover my tracks should he rise from his lounge chair and come inside to monitor if I’m using the right cup or the right spoon.
sMost of the time, when my daughterly duties are done I slip away unnoticed. But this morning my dad was sitting inside in my mom’s easy chair by the window, looking out at the mountains. I could feel he was ready to give me some parting words of wisdom before I flew out the door.”Suzan, you are at an age where you should be taking it easy. You should be sitting around with your legs up on a stool and not have all kinds of worries. Isn’t there some man who would like to be your husband? You shouldn’t give up on men . . .”When I laughingly reply that “I’ve chosen the lesser of two evils,” my mom gets it right away, and starts chuckling.”Dad,” I say, “don’t you know by now there’s no such thing as a free lunch? If I was married I might still have to work plus then I’d have to make dinner . . . ”

“Ah, no,” he shrugs and waves his arms to emphasize his point, “you’ve got to choose the right one. You just never picked the right one. I know you, Suzan, you picked the wrong ones . . . don’t give up on men, Suzan, don’t give up . . . ”

We’ve had this absurd conversation a hundred times, but I take the bait, mainly to make my mom laugh.

“If I married the right one I’d have to go with him on cruises, or travel to foreign countries, or dress up and accompany him to dinner parties . . . and later I might have to take care of him.”

My mom finds the turn of the conversation hilarious and gets increasingly animated as my dad and I banter back and forth.

I kiss them both good bye but before I leave I check their mailbox. Inside is a single envelope with a red line above the address box proclaiming:

“Your Guide to a 2014 Medical Product Benefit.”

Being that my parents are both so old now, I take the liberty of screening their mail.

The letter says: With confirmed eligibility, dispatch cutting-edge ED treatment
STATUS: UNCONFIRMED
RESPOND WITHIN: 14 days
PRIORITY ID: 62056-01890
ATTENTION: We are trying to reach you regarding a safe-highly effective erectile dysfunction therapy covered by Medicare and private insurance. If you suffer from ED, then you may be entitled to a proven product . . . It is the ONLY proven therapy therapy to bring back natural functioning . . . However, your reply is needed within 14 days to ensure availability.
Sincerely,
Dr. D. Marshall Levy
CEOFounder, CarePoint Medical.

What kind of shameless charlatan world is this?

Is this all we have to look forward to?

Maybe I wouldn’t mind being married to another writer who doesn’t mind if I ignore him when I walk in the door and run to my writing room . . .

Yesterday one of my students left two presents on the seat of my car: a sampler of four cans of Zhena‘s Gypsy Tea– Chocolate Chai, Coconut Chai, Caramel Chai, and Hazelnut Chai. And a book aptly titled, The Merry Recluse, by Caroline Knapp.

I’m thinking to myself, “I wouldn’t mind marrying a very merry recluse!”

s5

Photo Credit: Cathy Snyder

  — in Ojai, CA.s4

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir, Yoga Teacher Magazine

January 28, 2014

 Book Review by Ivan Nahem,  founder/editor, Yoga Teacher Magazine

Suza_book_cover_on_trail_with_Honey

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir is a well-told, well-paced and timeless tale. It’s really not all that much about yoga per se, although one might say it’s about the wisdom that comes from both yoga and suffering. Suza is a renowned yoga teacher with several wonderful instruction books to her credit, but this is more about her personal life, a disappointed-in-love story. As in most memoirs, the author is a good part of the story, and here she’s quite a character in and of herself. And the portraits of the supporting cast are vivid (especially the villain), and we even get fine ambience in the description of the Ojai environment, including the yoga scene there.

What threw me a few times while immersing myself in this story is that I kept hurting for the author, cringing for her unfortunate decisions, sharing her distress over the jerk with whom she was falling in love, and with whom she kept thinking, despite mounting evidence, she could make it work. Maybe it’s because I live with the handicap of being a guy and so I know guys – as in the principle that you can’t bullshit a bullshitter (not that I’m anything of the sort, of course!) ― he just seemed transparent, such a scammer, the kind of guy you run for the hills from. He proves to be a pathological liar, the kind of person who lies to themselves at such a deep level that lying is a way of life. AND he’s terrified of sex and does everything he can to avoid any such real situations; love is just power play. As a reader I sensed early on where the pattern was headed, so I knew that this paramour was a lost cause and that sometimes made the narrator’s choices appear inexplicable. In any case there were times when her hurt was so raw — and then she would see him AGAIN! — and I was quite tempted to hurl the book against the wall, but the book is actually in my Kindle, so that would have been counterproductive.

470591_10150741641279703_266408929_oAnd if I reflect in all honesty, I’ve been deceived myself a few times, so my discomfort with her naiveté is ultimately unwarranted. It’s apparent that Suza’s story strikes a chord, especially among other women (shocking surprise!). Recently I had a dialog with another yoga teacher about her lying ex-husband (or “wasband” as she put it) and how deceived she felt in that relationship . . . Well obviously this is not a unique theme, but Suza makes the story work with all the very verisimilitude detail. If you’re in the mood for a cautionary tale like this, definitely give it a read. Suza’s a deft writer and her voice is very welcome.

Ivan Nahem is the founder/editor of Yoga Teacher Magazine.
http://www.yogateachermagazine.com/review/fishing-on-facebook%3A-a-writing-yoga-memoir

Embracing my inner Pippi Longstocking

November 15, 2013

My big treat two or three times a week is slinking into Farmer and the Cook and filling my African grass basket with avocados, oranges, bananas, soy creamer, cucumbers, hummus, soup (if it’s ready), chocolate chip muffins (I’m eating one right now), and whatever other goodies from their bakery case that I have cash for.

As I stood filling up a cup of coffee, I noticed an exceptionally slim, beautiful young woman talking to an older woman friend. The writer in me caught parts of their conversation: “Be sure to smudge the house with sage . . .” I had the impression the older woman was advising and consoling the younger one on matters of the heart, and I was close enough so that when I reached for the soy creamer and looked up I saw tears flowing down the younger woman’s flawless face.

I wish it were as easy as lighting candles and smudging the house with sage. Seeing the two of them talking and then hugging, I remembered how, for years and years, back when I was young and skinny, I’d pour my heart out to my older women friends. They were so patient with me, even as they rolled their eyes and tried to talk sense into me. But I had to learn the hard way–through experience.

Seeing this woman’s tears reminded me of the worst-ever breakup, with a sweet man I was hopelessly addicted to. I should have figured it out on our first date when he snorted “nose candy,” and those times when he snuck Ecstasy (still legal back then) into my orange juice, but it took a good long decade before I emerged from that river of denial. When he finally left, I didn’t think to smudge our house with sage. But, after sobbing for three days, comforted by my black potbellied pig, Rosie (who slept beside me on a blanket), and my dear white miniature poodle, Muffy, I had the sense to open all the doors and windows and let the fresh air and sunlight in.

To help me recover from the shock and disappointment of the breakup, my pre-teen daughter surprised me with a gift of two tame rabbits. They made me laugh through my tears. After playing with them outside on the grass, and not wanting to confine them to a cage, I had the brilliant idea to convert my bedroom into a rabbit room. This was something I could probably never have done if I still had a husband!

So I got rid of his dresser, our giant marital bed, the romantic lights, the decorations from India–all the stuff we had bought together through the years–and schlepped a bale of sweet smelling alfalfa hay into the house, a few sections at a time, until the entire hardwood floor looked like barn flooring, covered in hay. The energy of maleness, sex, and painful breakups flew out the window, and was replaced by two same-sex rabbits cavorting innocently about.

My daughter, her friends, and the kids next door quickly discovered that rabbits, like kittens, love to run through tunnels, play hide-and-seek, and hop over boxes and other obstacles. Soon the bedroom became a bona fide rabbit playground. With no man in the house to manage me, I embraced my inner Pippy Longstocking–my favorite childhood heroine who lived carefree, independent with no parents and kept her horse, monkey, and other animals in the house. In the weeks after that painful breakup, I no longer cared what the house looked like. Hay spilled from the bedroom into the hallway, and the rabbits nibbled at my toes . . .

suz10

Time for a Little Levity

May 8, 2013

Time for a little levity:

Last Friday I walked into my bank. Way on the other side of the room I immediately spotted “Liz,” the character in my book who blew the whistle on “Adam.” If it hadn’t been for her revelation, who knows how much longer the charade would have played on.

I hadn’t seen Liz in more than two years, and for a second my mind went into a spin. She walked over to where I was filling out my deposit slip and we gave each other a hug.

“I see you got your book published,” she said, laughing.

“Yes, I did!” I replied. “Did you read it?”

“Yes, I did!” she said, with a knowing smile all over her face.

We just looked at each other and laughed as we each remembered the synchronicity of Adam arriving just as she was leaving my Sunday-morning yoga class, and the look on her face when she recognized him.

“I’ve lost all respect for him,” she confided as the teller credited my deposit. We laughed and chatted some more as Honey and Chico ate the biscuits the teller gave them.

“The good thing about writing that book,” I said, “was that I learned how to write dialogue. That book got me going on turning my journals into memoirs.”

Bumping into Liz at the bank made my day. I walked out of there feeling like a wealthy woman.

Health—including mental health—is wealth!

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir

Suza_Book_Cover_Front_Only(1)

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

Reviews

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

As if life itself isn’t strange enough, then there’s the dream world. . .

February 5, 2013

As if life itself isn’t strange enough, then there’s the dream world. Last night I was in a hotel room with a man from my past. In real life he was a healer—a successful, movie-star-handsome doctor. But he was also a wounded child, addicted to sex and drugs, with posttraumatic stress syndrome from his years in Vietnam. Our ten years together eventually woke me up to the shadow side of relationships.

In the dream, many years had passed since I’d seen him. He was claiming that he was now rehabilitated, and I was supposed to trust him. He was still young, lying nearly naked on the bed, smiling with need and beckoning me to come to him with that same “I want you” look on his face as when we were together. But I felt nothing, no sexual pull . . . just a sense of obligation.

I said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve had sex. It’s going to take time for me to trust you.” And just as I said that I noticed an insect crawling on his pillow—a scorpion. I looked again and saw another one, and another one, and then I realized that they were everywhere, all over the floor, and that I had already been stung on the leg but hadn’t noticed it. I shouted, “We’ve got to get out of here!” and ran out and closed the door.

When I woke up, I scribbled all this down in my journal. And, as I wrote, I saw how each man in my life was like a symbol, representing a world I thought I couldn’t touch on my own.

suz10

[My editor says, “Develop/expand on this last thought, Suza!” And I say, “I will!”]

Yoga yakking

December 1, 2012
Scan_Pic0018
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!

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