Why Am I a Naturist, a Nudist?

Featured

It all began in darkness, when depression became a matter of life and death.

Now that I have started to re-approach nudity as therapy in the container I will continue to call, Nude Psychology, I find that I need to explain something very important – Why? Why nudity? And the only way I can do this honestly is to speak of my own roots, my own initial experiences. Everything grows out of those early years. I have posted most of what follows below more than once, in more than one forum.

~

The sky is wild this morning. One minute it is dark with ominous clouds flying by as if they are on a freeway, and the next minute there is glorious sunshine. And the speed at which this is all happening makes the mind swirl. The wind has been blowing all night following a long period of rain yesterday late afternoon and all evening, and is still blowing strong creating whitecaps and pounding waves along the shoreline. Sometimes nature serves as a good metaphor for what is happening within one’s psyche. I know that in today’s case, it is quite the mirror.

Light does emerge from the cover of darkness.

Light does emerge from the cover of darkness.

I didn’t sleep well and it wasn’t because of the rain or the wind. Rather, it all had to do with the stirring of shadow contents within, stuff that lies below the surface of my awareness. I was asked why I was a naturist, why I needed to be naked when the rest of the world, the civilized world was doing well with their clothing on. I wasn’t able to give a satisfactory answer nor did I think that there could be a satisfactory answer in terms of having another person who is not a naturist, understand and accept. Of course, saying that, I open myself to the possibility of being very wrong. I don’t really have an excuse for not finding the words to answer this question, even if it is just for myself.

Because of my long involvement with depth psychology, I knew that the answers did exist, somewhere deep within my psyche. So this morning, I opened up the door to the question during my time for meditation which then lasted longer than usual. It was essential to let the question stew for a while, allow the contents within to become stirred up in the darkness of the unconscious. Later in the morning, after sitting for a while in silence with my morning coffee, not actually thinking but also not banishing thinking, I went for a long, two hour walk along the beach. I refused to force an answer but I also left an opening as if an opening in the clouds, for whatever needed to come to consciousness to have an entry.

As a child I was sexually abused, emotionally abused, physically abused in my family of origin by my biological parents. The sexual abuse extended to include my maternal grandfather and more than one parish priest. I was a docile child, the eldest of a large group of children. It was my job, the expectation that I came to embrace that I was there to please others, to take care of others, to put others before myself. I forgave my parents before they both passed away, enough years before their death so that I would be able to include them in my own children’s lives as grandparents. It also gave them time to acknowledge their part in my wounding – but that never came to be.

The patterns learned in early childhood that continued through to a few years after I was married with children of my own carried over into how I interacted within the family in which I was husband and father. It carried over into my career as an educator, coach and then as counsellor to students, staff and people within my community. I was well trained to put myself behind me and do my utmost best to be a good father, a good husband, brother-in-law, coach, neighbour. This is a story I knew well, one that I wrestled with through midlife and my own course of psychoanalysis. But where does this almost primal urge to naturalism come from?

In the safety of a forest, reclaiming control of body

In the safety of a forest, reclaiming control of body

It was soon after the sexual abuse from my grandfather, the last time I was sexually abused as a youth, that I found myself in a quiet meadow in a nearby small forest with a book of poetry. It was a warm late spring day, about six months following this last incidence. Feeling the warmth of the sun and feeling the words of classical poetry, I soon found myself naked. Over the next two years, my last two years at home, I took every opportunity, weather permitting to hide in this forest and meadow in order to be free.

Leaving home, I found other opportunities, especially the opportunity of sleeping in the nude, to recapture this sense of freedom. A job at the other end of the country found me enjoying social nudity in swimming pools and saunas with my co-workers, other young adults. The exhilaration of  body freedom acted as a sort of barrier that banished my history of being abused.

Alone in nature

Yet now, the pull to nudity is again strong so I look to these roots and it dawned on me that it is being nude where I claim control of my body, control of my identity, control of my sexuality. My body is not about pleasing others, making life easier for others. Do I remove body hair or make sure it is groomed for my own sense of well-being, or do I allow the needs of others dictate what I do or don’t do with my body hair? It comes down to control. Am I in control or do I defer control to someone else?

Now, in my sixties, I am saying this is my body and I will care for it, and my identity, and my psyche as best I can. I will not be a child and give control to another. I am a man, not a child victim continuing to seek approval, seeking to please others while disregarding my self.

I wonder if this is an answer, or just the beginning of an answer?

I Got To Walk With Brian

A walk with Brian near his acreage in the Eagle Hills near Battleford.

I just got news today that I never wanted to hear. My friend, Brian died yesterday. Brian was the president – the heart and soul – of the non-landed naturist group called Prairie Suns. My wife and I have taken part at various times over the years at events held at the acreage where Brian lived with his wife. And, there were other times such as in the scene above where it was just the two of us as friends with no organised event needed. As couples, we visited them and they visited us.

I talked with his wife Nancy this morning intending to visit their home again as I had earlier this spring. Before I could even bring up the reason for my call, she told me the sad news. I will learn more about “what next?” tomorrow. It felt strange to me as my wife and I had been talking about them during our morning countryside walk about an hour before I found out the news.

One thing that this type of news does, is to reinforce the idea that one shouldn’t postpone too many things for the future. There is no promise of tomorrow for any of us. So as a result, I am going to put myself out there more in ways that will allow me to be even more who I want to be. You will find out more about this in future posts.

Meditate on This While Skyclad

Skyclad meditation

Following my morning meditation which I did outdoors when the weather allows such meditation, I returned to the house in order to prepare what I needed for today’s blog post. I knew that I was going to write about meditation as I had just put an Bhudda water fountain into my yard, as is pictured beside me in the photo which I took yesterday evening. No, this wasn’t my meditation, but simply a record of the new garden Bhudda in place. I meditate in a different corner or the yard, someplace that is more private as is fitting.

Well, as I was saying, I went to my home library and found a book by Khenpo Karthar called Dharma Paths which was written in 1992. I opened the book at random and found these words:

“When the leader of a community or a country has a very open, stable, and tranquil mind, there is a greater chance for peace and harmony in the lives of the people of the whole community or country. The past few generations have had the awesome and dreadful experience of two world wars. These two wars did not happen because all the people in the world were angry and disturbed. The wars were provoked by a few disturbed, angry, confused people, perhaps fewer than one hundred. Unfortunately, a few very disturbed people with control over a country can produce tremendous destruction and disaster.” Khenpo Karthar, Dharma Paths, 1992.

I don’t want to expand upon Karthar’s words, but simply let them sit with you. Perhaps you would even meditate with the thought and/or echo of these words forming your meditation focus. After letting the words sit for a while, I would like to hear from you, your thoughts both from the point of dharma and today’s world situation. Now, it’s your turn.

Life as it is Lived by a Naturist on the Prairies

It has been quite some time since my last post here. Blame it on having a busy life now that summer is officially here. I began with three days of selling books, followed by a side trip to pick up grandson number six in order to take him to visit his cousins – grandsons numbers three, four, and five [and their friends] in the U.S.A. I just returned home yesterday evening and now have two and a half weeks before the whole clan descends upon our home for our annual summer gathering where we will celebrate everyone’s birthday with an ice cream cake, a family tradition created because distances and other circumstances don’t allow us to gather together as a family for each grandchild’s birthday.

Back home, I fired up the BBQ to prepare our evening meal after checking out the status of our garden. An early bedtime was in order as this old man can only handle so much fun before needing to catch up on missed sleep. Grandson number six is being delivered to his mother as I write this post. It is the first time that he has asked for Grandma to do the driving. That means I got left behind to do the chores.

Family gatherings are clothed events for me, but cherished events regardless of the need to wear clothing. This morning, it was time to do the laundry after emptying our suitcases. In the end, the two lines were completely full of wet clothing waiting for the sun to dry them. Luckily for me, I got to do all of this while skyclad.

Over the next two and a half weeks I doubt that I will have many hours spent wearing clothing.

This afternoon I will be mowing the lawns and taking care of a few other items before finally turning to my editing of works-in-progress.

A Change of Pace – The Naked Author

On the road to Calgary.

I’ll have to admit it, I am an author, and I write poetry, non-fiction, and novels while naked. Of course it isn’t just while writing that I slip out of my clothing. The truth is, I take every opportunity possible to be clothing-free.

For three nights, I am staying in a campground at the west end of the city, staying in my R-Pod trailer. The campgrounds are located on the slopes of hill about an hour from the Rocky Mountains. There are enough locations away from the eyes of the other campers for me to enjoy a few moments while nude.

Here comes the sun – yes, I honour the sun at every opportunity.

Currently, I am on a book-signing tour with three stops in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in progress. Yesterday I was at the Spectrum Chapters store on the east side of the city. This morning I am in the south-west side of the city at the Signal Hill Indigo book store. Tomorrow, Canada Day, I will be signing books in the south-east side of the city at Shepard Centre Indigo. I have to admit that I enjoy signing books and talking to people about the books and listening to them tell me their stories.

Once the last signing has taken place, I will be driving off to pick up my youngest grandson who will spend the next week with my wife and me. We will be taking him to visit his cousins in the U.S.A. It should be all fun and games and leave me totally worn out. I am not sure when I will be posting again. But until then, Happy Canada Day and Happy Independence Day!

Holly – On Being Faithful to One’s Primary Relationship

Holly – I am my own mistress

Holly returns as I return to the second part of this series of posts that focuses on Daryl Sharp’s quote: “the license to be unfaithful”?

When we hear the word “unfaithful” the first assumption is that one partner has engaged in sexual relationships with someone outside of the relationship. Typically the scenario plays out where a man has stepped outside of his marriage to have a mistress. We assume that it is all about sex. He is deemed as unfaithful to his wife.

Now, if the same man has poured his extra-marital energy into his work, the result is still the same. Work becomes the mistress. All sorts of similar scenarios all point to the same result regardless of which partner in a relationship has stepped outside of the marriage to find a sense of fulfilment – finding something that helps to fill in the holes of the psyche. Daryl Sharp was talking about typical marriages between a man and a woman with the unfaithfulness being sexual in nature. Yet, it is obviously more than about sex, and not limited to heterosexual relationships. Any relationship can become threatened by one of the two stepping out of the relationship in search of the missing pieces of “self.

I am a naturist. Holly is a naturist. And, many of my friends are naturists whether they are friends in cyberspace of the face-to-face world. My wife is not a naturist. I drive off every once in a while to go to a naturist venue where I am naked in the company of naked men and women. Imagine the threat that this must feel like for my wife as I hang out with naked people while she is at home. This is something that we don’t share together. I have a different set of friends and I do different activities, something that I never did in the past. We were always joined at the hip, doing everything together sharing the belief that otherwise we would be placing our relationship, our marriage in jeopardy.

With that said, I want to shift to a different scenario which has the same relationship impact. I am a writer. Many of my friends are writers whether they are friends in cyberspace or in the face-to-face world. My wife is not a writer. I drive off every once in a while for a writing retreat or to engage in book-signing events. For example, as I write this post, I am in a city more than 500 kilometres away from home, camping alone between events. This is something we don’t share together. It is as though I have a different life being lived in the shadows. I am doing my thing while she is at home forced to find a way to do her own thing, alone.

Two different realities. Writing is my mistress as is naturism. My relationship with my wife somehow remains strong – in a way, I have the license to be unfaithful, giving time and energy to those two mistresses, time away from my wife. Somehow over the past few years we have both realised that if either of us don’t invest in our primary relationship to “self,” the relationship with each other is put an a greater risk. She tried being a naturist and suffered. I tried not being a naturist and suffered. So, what then?

Our marriage survives because we can honour the differences, allow … give license to … having separate passions that make us better people, perhaps allowing us to be better together as a result.

Holly – Is One Unfaithful When We Need Others as Mirrors

Living my examined life.

Holly has agreed to appear in one of my Naturist Lens blog posts. I have decided to bring my friends from the naturist world into this, my personal naturist space because they have become part of my naturist space in one form or the other. Sometimes it helps to have different images to connect content with a visual.

“No one person can fill all our needs all the time. We can plumb our own depths to some extent, but we still need others to mirror who we are.”

Daryl Sharp sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable, a good thing if one realises that one needs to feel uncomfortable if one is to make the necessary changes to become a better person. In the quote above, Sharp where in Not the Big Sleep, one character states that the prerequisite for a good marriage is the license to be unfaithful. I could hardly believe my eyes in reading this, a statement that seems to condone extra-marital affairs. But when I calmed down, I wondered if that was really what was being said. What did Sharp mean when he said “the license to be unfaithful”?

I know that this unfaithful business is about one’s partner/spouse or some significant other. When one invests in uncovering and discovering who one is beneath the surface of ego, and in the process uncovers and discovers more about the person with whom they have invested, the relationship changes. Does a person feel guilty for seeing themselves in a different light? It may seem that in placing self ahead of other, that is a betrayal. But, I am getting away from the topic.

I am an ordinary person. I see a beautiful-to-my-eyes woman and I respond at some level or other, physically, psychologically, and sometimes emotionally. At that moment, I am being unfaithful in a way. As my wife has often explained, it isn’t necessary to have sex with another person to be unfaithful. Women know this truth. So how then do we stay together? I mean, is there even one amongst us who has never “strayed” in thought, dream, desire, wish, or instinct?

Hmm … I think I know what Sharp is now talking about. We need to give each other the gift of “others” who can mirror more of who we are. We need to trust that what holds “us” together in relationship has a foundation that could survive either being unfaithful.

And it isn’t just about sex, one can be unfaithful in a variety of ways such as “not holding faith” with a particular belief system or life style. When one partner adopts naturism while the other holds to a long-held life style where social nudity is held in very low esteem, the choice presents itself – accept or not accept. If the move to naturism results in a deep negative response, then one exists in a relationship where there is no “license to be unfaithful” to the original container of the relationship. It is as though one has “slept with the enemy.” So many of my friends who are naturists found themselves unable to keep their relationships together. Naturism became the mistress, just like money had become the mistress in other failed relationships where the “significant other” stopped being at the centre of the universe.

A few pages further into the book, another line leapt out at me:

“Partners often stay together long past the time when their relationship has ceased to be mutually satisfying.”

I think I’ll have to come back in another post to wrestle with this quote. I need to look at my own relationship and the relationships of others I know who have been married for quite some time to get some perspective.

To Be Authentic as a Naturist is to Suffer

“an expression of the suffering of soul” – James Hollis

No, I am not suffering as I hang out the wash this morning. But, the image of being hung out to dry, of exposing one’s dirty laundry is part of today’s post which continues looking at Chapter Four in James Hollis’ book, Living an Examined Life.

“If you do what is right for you, it is right for you; if you do what is wrong for you, it is wrong for you. But it is not so simple, is it?”

Now, washing clothing and then hanging it out to dry while nude is something that is very right for me, at least that is what I tell myself. But of course, if I was reported for an offensive display of nudity by one of my neighbours, it probably wouldn’t feel so “right” on second thought. Humour aside, Hollis isn’t talking about something such as the state of dress one chooses while hanging out clothing. There is something else that is being questioned.

“How do we know what is right for us? Well, the body knows, our deepest feelings know, and our psyche knows, and each expresses its opinion, even as we learned early in life to evade the continuous messages from our own depths. So, the recovery effort must typically begin with the experience of inner discord, outer conflict, and sometimes heartache and loss.”

Perhaps I wasn’t too far off the mark with my comments about hanging out the laundry while nude. While I performed this task this morning, my body and my inner feelings seemed to resonate. My ego, however, kept trying to tell me to cover up in case someone should see me. Ego lost out. Will there be a cost to me in the near, or not so near future because of it?

“Living our personal authority will not spare us from conflict, from suffering, from marginalization, or even martyrdom.”

Therein lies the challenge. Do we risk everything in the attempt to recover personal authority? What is my wife should say, “I’ve had it with your public nudity!” and demand an end to our relationship? What if my children-in-law should ask me to stay away from my grandchildren? What if my community should say, “Arrest him, the pervert.”? There is no question that having naturism as part of my “right for me” self will likely marginalise me more as time goes by and more people are confronted by my choices. It is the reality of the modern world. So, it becomes a choice. Do we have the courage to stick to what is authentic about ourselves, or do we abandon the “self” in an attempt to appease the collective shadow?

Recover Personal Authority – Only Embrace Naturism if …

Personal authority, a psychological quest in the second half of life.

So many people are focused on the outer world. And if one hears any of the news that is flooding all of the media, they [we] need to have a strong focus on the outer world lest it careens out of control into all sorts of collective nightmares. Regardless of what is transpiring in the outer world, it doesn’t mean that we need to abandon our private, inner world. If we don’t maintain our own personal authority, we become puppets, just another echoing voice in the crowd yelling across a divide at opponents, a divide that appears to be widening. Rather than dialogue to negotiate, both sides harangue and heckle. The individual is powerless though seemingly engaged. Authority lays within the collective.

Joy Nelson is one person I know who is daring to discover who she really is outside of the journey through the first half of life – and I don’t mean that in linear terms. She found herself at a crossroads between the way life was where authority lay somewhere, likely in many places, and the way life will be. This in-between place is called the Middle Passage, or more commonly, midlife.

Naturism, daring to step outside of the collective, appears to be one portal that may allow an individual to recover personal authority. As in the past number of posts, I am returning to James Hollis’ book, Living an Examined Life. Here are a few words from Chapter 4.

“The second half of live occurs when people, for whatever reason – death of a partner, end of a marriage, illness, retirement, whatever – are obliged to radically consider who they are apart from their history, their roles, and their commitments.  …

 

We have to recover personal authority because the din and demand of the world is too huge to ignore, too intrusive to resist, even if we think we have rebelled and held to our own course.”

I am my body, and I am more than my body. This is me. My rules.

So where can we begin this process of recovering personal authority? In my opinion, one valid place to start is with the body. Our bodies have been controlled by the outer world in various forms and formats including age-old scripts that are handed down through generations. To actually confront our bodies without hiding the parts that we have been taught are not to be seen, is transformational.

It is one thing to finally come to grips with the ownership of one’s body, to recover personal authority of one’s body. Yet it is something else entirely to maintain that authority outside the safe haven of one’s private space. Many find other safe havens, naturist campgrounds or resorts, or nude cruises, or other nakations. The problem then reappears as one finds a level of comfort and once again gives up authority to the naked collective. The challenge is to push the boundaries found both within and without in order to flesh out, to uncover the authentic self and its raison d’être. It’s a long process, and often filled with detours and potholes.

One doesn’t undertake this psychological journey of self-discovery unless one is jarred from one’s old life regardless of how uncomfortable that old life was. Even when the old life comes crashing down for various reasons cited by Hollis above, most will resist the psychological journey and embrace being a victim of fate. Obviously, one can never recover one’s personal authority if one doesn’t do the work.

Joy Nelson is found on Twitter as @getnakedwithjoy and at her website: Get Naked With Joy.

What Does a Naturist Owe to the World?

How does your garden grow?

I am back home until tomorrow morning when I am again off for a few days. Being a father and a grandfather is back on my agenda as I get to play golf on Friday with my son and his son at a fund-raising tournament in Red Deer, Alberta. The relationships I have with these two are different. For whatever reason, my relationships with my grandchildren hold unconditional regard at the centre while allowing each one of these seven people to be different and

have a different relationship with me from their cousins.

There once was a thought that I owed each of them my time and energy simply because they were my grandchildren. However, as they grew older and introduced their friends into my home, I have found myself owing these others as well. I wondered, ‘Where does the owing stop?‘ James Hollis has an answer in his book, On This Journey We Call Life.

“So, what does one owe the world? My own answer is: respect, ethical behavior and the gift of one’s own best self. We serve others by becoming ourselves, what the gods intended.”

Risking being authentically my own best self.

I guess that explains a lot when it comes to young people and the not-so-young people in my life – my best self. In hearing these words from Hollis, I realise that being a naturist is part and parcel of being my own best self.

Hollis goes on to say,

“All our social conditioning tends to foster conformity, for thereby one is most likely to have one’s needs met, find security, even love. But with every adaptation there is a concomitant risk that the soul will be violated”

He goes on to talk about walking our own individual journey, our own call to be authentic, to be our own best self. When the self gives up part of his or her soul through conformity, then what is left isn’t able to then give the world what is owed. Our journey is an individual journey that has others playing their parts. We need to have

“respect for each person’s summons to be unique. We owe ethical behavior so that we may live in a society which supports each person’s possibilities.”

When I conform and set naturism to the side as though it was negative, I am reduced to being a lesser person to myself. I loose energy, I loose my self. When I return to having naturism in my life, I can breathe again, be fully alive. And in the process, I stop forcing others to conform to my worldview. As an example, each of my grandsons is growing up to be unique [as they should] and I would be wrong to try to mould them to be anything or anyone based on my lens. Unconditional respect … we all owe it to the world, to each other.

 

 

Showing Up Even When Bare

The blue man.

Growing up and acting one’s age is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes, and for some of us, we find ourselves living as if we belong to the age of dinosaurs or that we have yet to escape adolescence. In my own case, I’ve been the “old soul” since the age of seven if not younger. Yet since I turned 60, I’ve somehow let go of that need to hide behind that mask of being much older than my years, and let fear go.

“Sooner or later, we are each called to face what we fear, respond to our summons to show up, and overcome the vast lethargic powers within us. This is what is asked of us, to show up as the person we really are, as best we can manage, under circumstances over which we may have no control. This showing up as best we can is growing up. That is all that life really asks of us: to show up as best we can.”

Painted in blue or purple, or simply daring to be naked and vulnerable, I now show up as me.