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.

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.

It’s Time To Grow Up

Skyclad moments in the garden

I am finally getting around to reading and thinking about Chapter Two in James Hollis’ book, Living An Examined Life. I have been spending the past four days with grandson number five and his friend who have come to spend some time in Canada. The boys are keeping me busy, busier that I am used to being in a certain sense. They are both eleven years old, still children, but barely. There are flashes when the adults they might be peek out. My agenda while they are here are to try my best to make sure they don’t get bored and the by the time it’s bed time, they are basically worn out. Of course, that means “Papa” will be worn out as well.

Homemade garden cages

This morning, they slept in. I guess that means that I have been doing my job well. I had a few moments to myself to check out the garden, and read chapter two [well, not all of it, but enough for this post] and to find a few skyclad moments.

“Every morning we rise to find two gremlins at the foot of the bed. The one named Fear says, “The world is too big for you, too much. You are not up to it. Find a way to slip-slide away again today.” And the one named Lethargy says, “Hey, chill out. You’ve had a hard day. Turn on the telly, surf the Internet, have some chocolate. Tomorrow’s another day.” Those perverse twins munch on our souls every day. No matter what we do today, they will turn up again tomorrow. Over time, they usurp more days of our lives than those to which we may lay fair claim. More energy is spent in any given day on managing fear through unreflective compliance, or avoidance, than any other value. While it is natural to expend energy managing our fears, the magnitude of this effort on a daily basis cannot be overemphasized.”

An afternoon at the lake

With me spending my energy on the boys, there has been no time for fear or lethargy to set in. I find myself realising that rather than letting the days slip away, I strive to make all my moments be about having presence in life. Early morning hours embracing the freedom of being nude in my yard, then the shift to the two boys waking and making sure they have a breakfast before having them re-engage with a project begun two days earlier – burning words and images onto wood that has been pieced together in a design of their choosing. I am the grown-up in this situation. I am responsible for their well-being and engaging them in as many dimensions as I can.

“The moment we say, “I am responsible, I am accountable, I have to deal with this,” is the day we grow up, at least until the next time, the next regression, the next evasion.”

Leaning against a tree

But of course, there is a boy in me as well, a youth hidden behind this outer shell of a man who is well into his seventh decade. I defer to others decisions that I should be making, shifting my responsibility onto them. While the boys played in the water at the lake, I found a private space not too far away for letting the boy in me come out as well. I wanted to be as free as them. However, I didn’t want to go into the water as it was freezing cold. So, I made sure that I was hidden from their sight as I stole a few moments for myself before returning to take more “fun” pictures of the boys for their parents. It was time to be a responsible and accountable adult, at least in one sense of those words.

There will be more to come as I will return with more from Chapter Two – It’s Time To Grow Up.