Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: December 2018

Thankful For a Good 2018

It’s New Year’s Eve, my last full day at home here on the Canadian prairies before I fly off for a winter of sunshine and warmer temperatures in Ecuador. The backpacks have been filled with what we will need for three months, not a lot as we don’t wear much.

I am fortunate in that I will be able to live clothing-free for the most part within our casa which we rent, in Ecuador. Naturally, once we leave the casa, I wear clothing as it is a normal fishing village, not a naturist village. I accept that and actually respect that fact. The beach is not clothing optional, but a community beach meaning I will have to wear a bathing suit. I wish it could be otherwise, but that is the reality I live with in Ecuador.

As I said to open this post, it is New Year’s Eve. It’s a time when I look back at my naturist connections, whether they are online or face-to-face. I am blessed to have good friends who are naturists, such as Melvin and Sandy pictured here. This particular friendship has been growing over a few years and has resulted in both being frequently found in my posts here. There is a hope that 2019 will have us meet face-to-face.

This past year, I have been able to increase my presence in the world of naturism in various ways. With my friends, Will Forest and Paul Z. Walker, a Naturist Fiction site has come into existence. The three of us are writers of naturist fiction. I met Will a few years ago in Mexico after he had edited my naturist poetry books. Paul has been a writing buddy via NaNoWriMo for a few years. There is a real hope that Paul will become a face-to-face friend in the future when my wife and I travel to the Netherlands for another of our walking adventures.

In the early summer, I lost a face-to-face naturist friend, Brian Wappel. He was the president of the Prairie Sun Naturist group. In August, I became a Board member of the FCN, the national naturist federation for Canada. I managed to visit Green Haven, and a new-to-me site in Manitoba called Naturist Legacy.

Overall, it has been a good year with my naturist novel Small Company of Pilgrims having sold 126 paperback copies, and It’s Complicated selling 48 paperback copies. I have written another novel that will come out in 2019 once I come up with a title for the book and a cover. And now, here are the sales numbers for all-time for my books:

  1. A Small Company of Pilgrims – 248 print copies, and 416 eBook copies = 664
  2. It’s Complicated – 96 print copies, and 17 eBook copies = 113
  3. Naked Poetry 1 – 29 print copies, and 370 eBook copies = 399 *
  4. Naked Poetry 2 – 24 print copies, and 19 eBook copies = 43 *
  5. Naked Poetry 3 – 16 print copies, and 10 eBook copies = 26 *

And of course, there is this place, A Canadian Naturist which has managed to survive a drastic clean-up that saw it become a place with a bit more depth, and less trivial as a result. I have to thank so many who have allowed me to feature them and their images in the posts during the past year. And lastly, I want to thank you, my readers for your presence. Without you, this blog site would have never been resurrected from the ashes.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you.

Self Censorship

Uncensored

I have quite a number of “friends” who take self-images, some of them selfies while other images are more composed using timers and such. With very few exceptions, everyone has a number of “those” images which straddle or cross the line of what “others” would deem as being “appropriate” nude images, especially in the naturist communities. Even a number of those who protest an image such as mine which has an awakened sexuality to it, have similar images of themselves – and counted among my friends-with-nude-photos, are both men and women.

I have experienced, especially in the case of men, a chorus of voices who want such images purged from the Internet, citing how such images negatively impact the core values of naturism. The naturist community wants to desperately accepted by the broader community and will censor its members [pun intended] to ensure that the larger public will be appeased. In the case of women, I have witnessed more than a few being censored for displaying too much. The community slips into shaming these women. Now, in the naturist communities, the resulting behaviour has many women wearing sarongs so as to appease those who demand that we are naked, while at the same time, protecting our image as non-sexual nudists. I know, it is ludicrous.

I am not a threat to others. If anything, in spite of what the image just above would have you believe, I am judged a kind and sensitive man. During the years I was an administrator, I was judged too soft to be a leader. Yet the people I led respected me and felt safe under my leadership. Still, the image says something about me. Why am I defiant, potentially even angry in the photo? There was no one else anywhere near other than passing autos just out of view. As a psychotherapist, I had to pay attention to the image, my image. Just like I listen to my dreams [and those of others when I am at work as a therapist], I knew that something about my inner psyche was being exposed.

Having the fortunate experience of meeting like-mined people in cyberspace, the world of social media, I am learning that women are experiencing much the same thing. When we look at ourselves through our images, we discover things we never knew about ourselves, even if the images are tourist selfies in front of monuments and waterfalls. We become more conscious of who we are. Armed with that knowledge, we aren’t passive victims of the inner darkness within each of us. It was a good thing that I didn’t censor either image as they show me aspects of me that would otherwise remain unknown. Yet, when it comes to publishing blog posts here on the Internet, we either self-censor our images or have others who have the authority censor them in spite of our conscious [or unconscious] intentions.

The truth is, it really isn’t the broader community or the naturist community that plays the largest role of censoring our images, or how we live even if only a few hours a day, as nudists and naturists. The loudest voice that attempts to shame us, to contain us … well, it is ourselves. We allow the voices of parents and teachers and community to take up residence in our heads and we then amplify their voices. We only do this when we are uncertain about trusting ourselves. You know, the old “Father Knows Best!” kind of dictum. Sometimes we amplify the voices of our mates who are not naturists or nudists. “Thy will, not mine,” prevails.

Yet, in spite of all of these competing voices, but within and without, we take the photos or have them taken of us, for us. It is within these images that we begin to see below the level of “noise” and thus find the self that lies hidden, a more authentic self that is sensitive, honest, frightened, angry, loving, an artist, a warrior, and even nobility. It is all there in the photographs before the censor puts in an appearance, especially the ones we don’t dare show to the “public.”

We see this captured in the face of the images taken. What do the eyes tell us of that moment when we risked all, when the censor within is silenced, if only for a few moments while the shutter clicks capturing the truth?

Looking for Joy in the Shadows

Doing dishes – shadow work

It’s almost a new year, the darkest time of the year. Even though the lights are on, there always seem to be more shadow than light. At my home, like so many other homes, Christmas lights are turned on for the evening and the early morning, when we are awake. We turn them off when going to bed, leaving the house in complete darkness, except for the blinking blue and green lights of various electronics.

It’s the season of post-Christmas blues when the bits of light in the darkness can’t seem to cut through the shadows that slip in to our lives once the hoped for magic of the holidays has proven as elusive as trying to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus. We are left deflated in spirits and inflated with too much eaten, especially those sweet things that tempt when we are most vulnerable which then leave us even more depressed because of sugar-induced lows.

In the past, at those bleaker moments, I used to turn to my guitar, usually played quietly the shadows, like Joy illustrates above. The music becomes a meditative prayer that washes over the soul, as long as it is soft and gently rhythmical – no harsh volume or racing tempos. And then, with the spirit within stilled, I would breathe.

This morning I opened up Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart to find some wisdom that I felt was needed after seeing a cartoon that ridiculed pre-Christmas shoppers with the fact that all the presents they had bought were now 60% off. Such a cartoon – I can’t find it now, so I chose the image above to better illustrate that post-Christmas “let-down” which highlights the dark side of our “crazy mixed-up minds.” Chodron talks about meditation:

“it’s such a help in working with our crazy mixed-up minds to remember that what we’re doing is unlocking a softness that is in us and letting it spread. We’re letting it blur the sharp-corners of self-criticism and complaint.”

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 140.

Innocence and the Inner Child

Christmas eve

It’s the Night Before Christmas, the darkest time of the year. This year, a full moon threatens that darkness. And with the light of that full moon, there is a thin ray of hope that awakens. In just two days, my children and grandchildren will fill the house with all the promise of tomorrow.

I have to admit that it seems that humanity is also facing its darkest times here in North America and other places on the planet. We are inundated with storms from a Mother Nature who has begun to despair as well. Our politicians are all about finding our enemies under every rock and encouraging us to build walls around us to keep the nameless enemies at bay.

It is amazing to me how the appearance of just one child in our house brings light and hope. The thought of my children and grandchildren in the house, laughing, eating, playing, and revelling in the moment of family, pushes the darkness back.

What is more amazing is that within each of us, there is an innocent child, often one who has been wounded. Yet in spite of the wounding, still has hope, still believes in the magic and power of goodness. Merry Christmas to you and your inner child.

Nakedness and Shame

“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.” —George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903

George Bernard Shaw as the Thinker

George Bernard Shaw embodied this rejection of shame, rejecting sublimation to the collective unconscious which brings out the worst in humans in communities across the world. It doesn’t take much for neuroses to become embedded into a culture.

We gather together in communities, primarily out of fear of being alone. We view the others outside of our communities as inferior or even enemies. Within our communities, those who don’t accept the collective neuroses as moral truths are shamed with the intention of having conformity, unity. In the end, no one naturally fits into the collective paradigm and as a result we end up with individuals who suffer in shame, in self-doubt and expend a lot of money and energy to hide their natural differences from the average modern man.

Freedom from shame, a state of being that can best be thought of as a free spirit, a person who rises above the collective, or as Friedrich Nietzsche called this type of person, an overman, a superman. Today we all credit the beginnings of modern social nudism to the FKK movement. In reality, nudity was a normal part of life in Europe until the 18th century. Driven underground and declared an act of deviancy, it took a rebellion of youth encouraged by Nietzsche to live in harmony with nature, to embrace nudism, meditation and natural healing to bring nudism to the modern world, in spite of modern man who was and remains, ashamed of his naked body.

Shaw wrote the words above more than a hundred years ago. As I read them, I realised that nothing has changed, unless we have moved even deeper into a collective culture of shame and being offended by differences.

Getting lost in the Other.

The other side of the door

This is a post written nine months ago for a different blog site. I bring it here to ensure that it is kept safe.

You are in a relationship, committed to be together forever. As time slips by, both in the relationship change. Once the years of parenting children have receded leaving the two alone together, both have to deal with the changes or else retreat into self-denial, anger, apathy, or often a soul-crushing numbness. Both feel cheated as the Other isn’t the same person with whom the relationship began.

Yet, in spite of the challenges of finding the “self” in the relationship, true relationship can only be salvaged when both parties invest in figuring out just who they are as individuals, what do they need from themselves in order to feel whole. Only then, can the next level or work effectively take place, the discovery of what it is that each needs from the “other” to resonate with and enhance the “self.”

When a relationship begins with the attraction of opposites, there is an exponential increase in energy and will power to bridge the gaps between self and other that manifests. The more points of shared beliefs and personality, the easier the work. The fewer points of shared beliefs and personality, the harder the work. Regardless of whether the couple is more similar or less similar, the work to rebuild a relationship is very painful. It is a vital work with no guarantees that a relationship can be salvaged.  In fact as one source puts it:

if the differences are in values, interests and life goals, the relationship is doomed to failure, unless one of members loves themselves so little that they become dependent on the other and change their own values, tastes and preferences to become a photocopy of the other person. 

https://exploringyourmind.com/opposites-dont-attract-long/

When one partner discovers through the work that he or she is not simply a recreational naturist, but a person whose sense of self is diminished when denied nudity because of the discomfort with nudity by their partner, the “inner naturist” typically attempts to distance their naturist needs to appease their partner. There is a sense of noble sacrifice. So why is this not enough to salvage a relationship? Why does the self-sacrifice end up so badly for the one who sacrifices? And it isn’t just about sacrificing the inner nudist. It all comes down to what one values, what needs to honour in order to live authentically. One needs to know, respect and honour self.

Values are about what you need in order to live your life authentically so that you can be happy and feel good. These are about your firmly held beliefs about what makes you a person of value and also what you see as valuable in others.

Your values are based on your experiences in life and will impact on everything from who you are attracted to, your political leanings, your tastes, things you do in your spare time or that you have interests in, your religious and social interactions, where you want to live, what you’re passionate about, and more.

Values work in tandem with your boundaries which are your personal guideline of what you are prepared to accept in your relationships and from people, and are tied to your values, so if you have one, you have the other, and where you have little or no boundaries, your values, will exist, but are likely to be focused on more superficial, insubstantial values that don’t make a positive impact on your life.

https://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/being-authentic-in-your-relationships-for-more-positive-living/

It doesn’t matter what aspect of self is denied or abandoned in order to appease the other with the intention of salvaging relationship. When one engages in self-sacrifice, one deepens already serious wounds to the psyche. No real relationship is worthy when it demands that one or the other must be the sacrifice for the relationship to survive. To be honest, if relationship isn’t based on honouring self first, there can be no real honouring of other as well. The end result is a lifeless relationship where both parties lose or in termination of the relationship.

December, Holly and Freedom to be Nude

Winter in the northern hemisphere is not always a white, winter wonderland. Here on the Canadian prairies, rivers and lakes have frozen over and there is no doubt that it is winter. I can’t imagine going to any outdoor venue to enjoy nudity, let alone social nudity. But, that is exactly what Holly was able to do this December at Bolton Abbey which isn’t exactly what anyone would call a naturist site. We naturists make do as best we can in searching out neat places to express our real needs for being at one with nature

For most of us, the retreat into the indoors of our homes and the rare event at a community pool or clubhouse are basically the only choices. A few may dare a few moments to make a snow angel, or pose with snow falling, or taking a polar-bear dare. Hot tubs are treasured when and where they are available. And, as I remember from one of my first naturist experiences in the winter, more than forty years ago, there is always the sauna with a refreshing roll around in the snow to follow.

One thing I have notices with the advance of winter, is the gathering of naturists and nudists in online communities. The need to be social is real, even for those who are very introverted. There is a problem, though, with meeting online in groups that are purportedly naturist – the almost overwhelming influx of those for whom nudity equates with exhibitionism, sex and titillation.  Often, the result is to ban and block individuals from the communities in order to ensure that the community is truly naturist friendly.

For example, I have a Twitter presence with more than 1700 followers. Over the past number of months, I found myself blocking about eight out of every ten who clicked on the follow button. Since I get notifications about these new followers, I check to see if I am comfortable with them seeing and sharing my posts. Should they fail my personal level of tolerance, they are disappeared. Of course, I don’t believe for a second that my posts are thus protected as they often can see my posts when those I feel comfortable with liking and sharing my posts – after all, they may be followers allowed by those others. 

Like Holly and so many of my online friends, I love being social with those who espouse similar belief systems about naturism. A few of my friends recommended a platform called MeWe which had the ability to create communities. And, I put up a profile and began to see if this would truly be a good place for me. The verdict to date is very, very positive. Now, I can be found there along with many, though not all, of my friends. Who knows, perhaps it will become our primary space for online social nudity, something needed when we can’t get together in the great outdoors because of the weather, and often because of the distance.

Think of online naturist communities as freedom – freedom of association, freedom of presence, freedom of voice with those whom we wish to associate.

Lanie in the Autumn Outdoors

Lanie was outdoors for what she felt might be the last naturist outdoor photo shoot of the year. However, there is still a wee chance that she’ll find her way outdoors again with the appearance of snow. Snow is here on the Canadian prairies.

Here the snow came early. However, the temperatures have decided to remain rather pleasant, though on occasion it does get rather windy which makes it feel even colder outdoors.

So why go outdoors while nude and capture that in a photo? What is it that has so many who are comfortable enough with their bodies to take that challenge? Of course, I can’t answer for Lanie, nor for anyone else. There are likely as many reasons as there are people who take the risk of being fully exposed outside of the private space of home whether that home is a house, an apartment, or even a single room where the door is closed – one’s sanctuary.

As a naturist who is also a member of a naturist club which has a gated property where I go camping, being nude outdoors is a given as long as the weather and temperatures don’t make that too difficult of a task – remember, I live in a northern country. There is no risk, and typically there are no photos taken either. Those images that are captured, in my case, have more to do with my daily journal than about anything else. They don’t become “public” images.

Putting images into the public realm is a completely different kettle of fish. Lanie, like many life-models for art students, has a motivation that is tied to art. As a model for photographers, that art continues to be expressed. In both cases, the work becomes symbiotic. The artist and photographer are stretched by the reality of the model – the model is stretched by the vision within artists and photographers. 

But when it comes to my motivation to post images of me, what is that about? Likely it is partially something quite similar. It becomes a conversation between my mind and my body, a conversation that stretches me in a holistic manner. With each image, I see not just the physical me, but a hidden, perhaps unconscious, part of me is revealed. I become less of a stranger to myself.

Without this plunging into the depths of the unconscious to self-discover, it would be nothing more than exhibitionism and voyeurism. Of course, both are are present regardless. Humans are curious beings. They want to be seen and validated through being acknowledged as present. But of course, there is much more to it. I now leave it to you, the reader, to add your thoughts, your understandings, your motivations, or your reservations about 

Joy on Trusting Your Naked Self

Joy had a short and simple post with this image and the suggestion to “trust yourself.” It was left at that.

It all seems so simple, but that idea of self-trust isn’t so common in our modern world. We are told to trust our economists, our politicians, our bosses and co-workers, our clergy – well just about anybody and everybody but ourselves. It makes you wonder just how that came about.

I did some digging and came up with a short article in Psychology Today, by Rick Hensen called, Trust Yourself. Rick concludes his article with:

Be your whole self; it’s your whole self that you can trust. This day, this week, this life—see what happens when you bet on yourself, when you back your own play. See what happens when you let yourself fall backward into your own arms, trusting that they will catch you.

Somehow, we end up trusting the roles people play, the idea of them as more knowledgeable than we are. After all, the collective we live in has given authority to these leaders of state, church, and so on. However, when it comes to individuals, we aren’t very trustworthy at all. Why? Because we don’t trust ourselves.

We don’t trust ourselves because we know the darkness that lurks beneath the surface. We know that we aren’t trustworthy because we lie to ourselves and others. We would trust ourselves if only we were saints. Growing up we were taught to distrust ourselves because we were flawed, owners and holders of original sin. We heard the inner voices that confirmed our flawed self. It’s a catch twenty-two situation.

Naturism, for me, has provided a crack in that way of thinking. Risking being clothing free allowed my body a chance to speak for itself. When confronted with the fact of one’s body, the reality of it; one has no choice but to be honest. When seeing others similarly nude, one becomes gentler with oneself. This body is me! For good or bad, this body is me. We become attuned to our bodies. We begin to care for our bodies in spite of any fashion magazine tries to assert the disastrous idea that we shouldn’t trust our bodies unless they conform to a certain standard that somehow is constantly shifting.

Once we accept the truth of our bodies, another crack appears and we begin to listen to our inner self, begin to trust the inner self. It isn’t easy work. There are so many voices, including a few within our own selves that want to claim that authority, wanting us to trust them because we are not trustworthy.

So, as both Joy and Rick suggest, we need to claim our own authority, to bet on ourselves, and trust ourselves. Naturism is a pathway that can help us with this.

%d bloggers like this: