Naturism and Images – It’s All About the Intention – Part 1

Genital free “safe” image. Obviously nude but not threatening.

There is a continual controversy on Twitter and on other social media sites that purport to deal with naturism, that argue about images that are tagged as naturist where and when the genitals are seen. I know I waver back and forth between allowing full frontal images of myself and “safe” photos where body positioning or judicious cropping takes care of the possibility of offending. But when I do this, I become the problem. At that moment, I stop being authentic and hope that somehow I can be in the collective, well at least a small corner of the collective.

See me? I have a Penis.

Many of the images are blatantly not about naturism, but rather about individuals desperately posting images of themselves with the focus fully on their genitals – “see me, I have a penis … am I not amazing!” Yes, the vast majority of these genital images are posted by men.

Fuck me ….

And there are images of women that scream, “fuck me.” In any of these images, you will not get a glimpse of a real human being vulnerable because of their nudity. There is no intention to present an authentic image of themselves. There is no reaching out to the world to invite you into their world through their images. These genital images are all about clichés, about distracting and hiding the truth of those whose images are being presented.

Both the man and the woman above are hiding their authentic self from the world by projecting another layer of camouflage. Yes, they are naked, but the intention of the images tell us that their nakedness is about their genitals, not about them, confirming our collective belief in clichés. We look, we leer, we are aghast, we respond to the clichés individually and collectively. And in turn, we reinforce the notion that nudity in which the genitals are present, is really all about porn and perversion, that our own naked bodies are somehow to be hidden or else we become lewd, sexual deviants.

I read an article by Melissa Laflamme who had something to say about clichés:

“I ask myself what would happen if the culturally-prescribed and unconscious roles we can fall into suddenly were shattered, replaced by the need to genuinely connect — to not only love each other without packaging and pretence, free and unpossessed — but rather, to survive and to rebuild not only a life, but an authentic way of loving?”

New Yorker January 10, 2017

She had spoken those words in relation to this image which appeared in the January 10th issue of the New Yorker earlier this year. The author of the article, Chris Wiley, tells us:

One of the most beautiful photographs I know of is an image of a woman standing in the doorway of a barn, backlit in a sheer nightgown, peeing on the floorboards beneath her. It was taken in Danville, Virginia, in 1971, by the photographer Emmet Gowin, and the woman in question is his wife, Edith. The picture is so piercingly intimate that I find it difficult even to look at it. This is not because I feel as if I am intruding, or being shown something that I was not meant to see, but simply because it seems to hover too close to the vital force of human connection. It is too poignant, too alive. Rather than merely avoiding clichés—about love and intimacy, artist and muse, public and private­—the picture seems to repel them, as an amulet repels evil spirits. Clichés are prophylactics against the complexity and intensity of direct experience, tools used to distance ourselves from reality, but this photograph brings love near enough that we can feel its hot breath.

The image, for all of its “shock” is far from being pornographic. Why? It comes down to intentions of the photographer and his wife. There is no, “Look at me I have a vagina,” no “Fuck me” message. I won’t claim to know the intentions of either the photographer or his wife, but I know what isn’t the message.

Tilling the soil

In this image, my penis is present. But the message isn’t the same as in the first  “penis” image above. Here the message is simply about being vulnerably honest. I’m not Adonis, I am just some ordinary guy doing some ordinary stuff. And, I just happen to be doing it while nude. There is no intent to lure some unsuspecting woman or man or child into some sort of sexual activity. The intent is to finish the task of tilling.

We need images such as this to reclaim our bodies from the clichés that we have somehow adopted as truths about our human condition.

Self-Doubt, Depression, and Winter Waiting for its Grand Entrance

Is this the last day of warmth outdoors?

I have to admit, that autumn has shifted into its last days of relative warmth. Freezing temperatures overnight, and temperatures refusing to climb above 10 Celsius are projected for the rest of the season which looks to be shortened as winter is racing towards the prairies. We had snow, but it has melted as temperatures soared to 12 Celsius for the past two days.  From this point on, it will be naturism indoors at least until we arrive in Peru sometime in December. Like everyone else in the northern hemisphere, it will all about imagining and remembering until then.

Now that I have returned home from visiting my son and his family, I have a ten-day window for more focused writing, research and writing book reviews, which has become part of my marketing strategy for my books. As part of a different activity, I have gathered a collection of my poetry, both published and unpublished, in hopes that a Canadian publisher that is poetry-friendly, will be interested in publishing an expanded anthology of my poetic works. If not, I will turn to self-publishing the anthology next year.

Added to the future projects will be a significant rewrite of one of my older books in hopes that it becomes “more” interesting for the reading public. And, as part of that rewrite process, I will redo the cover of the book. Fortunately, I have sold enough of the older book to cover all of my printing costs associated with that book. I guess, I just might be a real writer after all – so many self-doubts plague writers.

I blame it on the season. Though I love the colours of autumn, it brings on a seasonal depression. I am harassed by thoughts that I will never have enough time to do even the most basic things in my life. My energy starts to dissipate and I retreat into an almost oppressive inner silence. On the surface, I race to complete various projects such as shoe racks, shelves, and whatever is thought up at what feels like the last minute, tasks that seem to multiply faster than I can complete them. I find it increasingly difficult to focus on any one task and often retreat into doing next to nothing in response. Of course, it’s all in my head. I know that, but …

 

Self-Doubts as a Naturist – It’s the Norm

The sun is out and it is freezing temperatures.

There was no way that I spent many minutes outdoors this morning while nude. Hopefully that changes this afternoon so that I can enjoy a cup of coffee in the sunshine. Until then, I have time to get down to my writing business, But in the meantime, I have a few thoughts that I want to share about some of the anxieties and issues faced by a naturist who has a spouse who isn’t a naturist.

This morning I had an opportunity to talk to another naturist who is a friend on Twitter. Like myself, this person is struggling with feelings of self-respect in terms of relationship. When a person is a naturist and his or her partner isn’t, there is a natural tension that creeps into the relationship. This isn’t anything new as all relationships struggle with differences between partners that may have nothing to do with nudity. For example, when a partner is a stay-at-home type when one is needing to interact with others and be active, there is tension. However, when it comes to one person being nude or needing nudity, there is an extra element that figures into the mix – a lack of support outside of the relationship.

Society as  whole, and our families, friends, and neighbours aren’t all that supportive of the idea of nudity, especially social nudity. So we struggle on our own with our situation. Self-doubt creeps in and we often deny ourselves of opportunities that present themselves to us. Perhaps if we just tried harder to keep our clothes on, it would get better and we wouldn’t need nudity at all? I’ve been there and tried that with no success. If anything, the feelings of self-betrayal when it comes crashing down – betrayal of self, and of partner, highlight our inability to disown the inner naturist that is clamouring to come out to be recognised and affirmed. We feel guilty about failing with our resolve to be “normal.”

Then, out of desperation to appease self and other, we become naturists only when alone, naturists in hiding in the house or in a private and secluded outdoor setting. For the most part, it is a lonely experience. But it isn’t enough to spend alone time nude. Something inside asks for more and more. We need to have others recognise and accept us as naturist, especially other naturists. So we turn to social media hoping that it will fill in the emptiness that needs filling.

For a while, we find what we are looking for in terms of connecting with others. However, it isn’t long before we realise that in the end, we are simply sitting alone somewhere with a computer, tablet or smart phone talking to others who are similarly alone. Social media is a head space experience, not a whole body experience. We still need the physical presence of others.

Turning back to our partners in our relationships, we try again to “fit in” or have them join us in experiencing naturism. By this time, both parties are well aware that the issue of nudity  is creeping into a front-and-centre position in the relationship. There needs to be resolution. Yet, when there is polarity differences, a win-win resolution becomes less-and-less hopeful. It isn’t because there is a lack of love in the relationship that plays a significant role in the tensions and strains on the relationship. Rather, it is love that makes the whole experience even more painful.

So, once again, the naturist typically retreats and attempts to disavow naturist tendencies in hopes of easing the hurt, the suffering for both the partner and the self.  But, the self can’t be denied. Secrecy and silence enter into the relationship – not a secrecy that could be characterised as cheating, for there isn’t an attempt to find a more compatible partner. It is more of an underground secrecy that is attempting to diffuse tension at the surface level of relationship. Of course, that is doomed to failure.

Then we retreat into an inner fantasy of wishful thinking, creating scenarios where we revel in all those experiences and gatherings we believe lie out there. Relationship becomes harder and harder to be in, especially in a manner that says  with honesty that “I am here, fully present, with free will, and full heart.”

Shaking our heads in disgust and disappointment with ourselves, we retreat from naturism over and over again in an endless cycle of attempts and failures to be like everyone else.

So what then?

Naked and Unafraid as a Skyclad Writer

The view from my office window.

It is still wet, cold, and windy here on the Canadian prairies. It is definitely not a good day to go outside, either clothed or clothing-free. So, as to be expected, I am in the house where it is warmer, working on various aspects of a writer’s life – reading, researching, writing, networking, reviewing, and marketing. I’ve arranged for a final two book-signing events for this year. With these two final events, I will have sold more books in 2017 than have been ordered from the printers in 2017. Of course, I still have too many books sitting in storage, about 350 books.

I have finally begun to receive payments from Amazon for eBooks that have been sold. I expect that will become a normal event now that Amazon has made it easier to get paid for a non-USA citizen. I have also begun to receive payments from Smashwords. I imagine that to you, my readers, this sounds like my career is “paying off” in terms of dollars and cents. Not a hope. Unless I was to suddenly become a “best-selling” author, it will be unlikely that I ever get to the point where I actually cover all of my expenses which include travel costs for all of the signing events. But, I can also say that I don’t really lose any money in the process, unlike some authors I know who have fallen into the trap of having a “publisher” (ready vanity publisher) bilk them out of thousands of dollars for printing their books.

One author I met last week spent $10,000 to have his two-volume book published. He was at the same Word On The Street event that I had attended. Like me, he was there to sell his books. No amount of sales that lie ahead for him will ever recover the initial cost of being published as there will be all the other costs such as the printing of more books, the travel and associated expenses, and the fact that because of the use of a vanity press, his books will never be treated with respect by the book publishing industry, the book-selling industry, and even  by many authors.

I am a self-published author. I do all of my own work and as a result the only cost (debt) I acquire is that of the cost of the actual printing of the books and the shipping costs to get them to my place. Are my books inferior products as books? So far, sales are telling me that they are not inferior – not best selling books to be sure – but books that sell and receive decent reviews. Sales become an issue of marketing, not an issue of quality. Marketing is my weak spot. Knowing this, I am now learning more about marketing and investing time and energy into getting that marketing foundation in place for my future books.

Is it worth it? Oh yeah! I can’t think of a more fulfilling way to enjoy my retirement years. My best book is yet to be written. And when it is written, hopefully all will be in place for the world to become aware of the book. The alternative is to sit in my rocking chair by the front window, looking at the world go by as I wait for my last breath to leave my body.

Wet and Windy Old Weather – A Naturist’s Version of Purgatory

It is October 1st and summer has definitely abandoned the prairies.

Yes, it is miserable weather if one wants to be an outdoor naturist. I tried it for a while today and ended up quite wet and chilled to the bone. As a result, I’m comfortably warm back in my office-library in the house.

I attended a publishing symposium a couple of days ago and I have to admit that I learned a lot, especially about the marketing aspect for both an author and a publisher of books. All of that said, I am wondering just how well this will work out for my naturist books. Many of the naturists that I know, personally, don’t buy books. I wonder just how one goes about changing the reading public to be more acceptable about naturist books. Selling steamy romance, or erotica is much easier – nudity in both is “acceptable.” However, for novels that are for other genres, nudity seems to be a problem.

Brr! It’s cold outside.

I hope to stretch the boundaries through the writing reviews process for a Facebook group which requires that a person writes a review of a book before getting someone else to write a review of their work. It’s a closed group which makes for a dedicated and focused community,  The Go Social  Book Review Club.  There are other book review groups that I will be trying out as well in hopes that I can get others to risk reading a novel using naturism as a natural background, or foundation, to what otherwise would be just another novel, albeit a well-written one.

I will keep all up to speed with developments along the way.

Skyclad Autumn Activities

Roses, and autumn leaves on the birch trees.

I am busy with yard work as it appears that we have a week of summer-like weather before winter begins to make its annual trek through the prairie region of Canada. I wanted to capture some of the beauty that bursts forth with this last burst of nature’s libido before frost turns all the colour to drab browns and greys.

Working the straw into the clay soil of our garden.

The busyness had me focus on tilling the garden. Our soil is hard because of clay. Over the years I have put in numerous bags of peat moss, mulch, dried grass and leaves, coffee grinds,  and egg shells into the garden to help make it easier to work. But to date, the garden remains hard clay making tilling a work out. This year, we are trying to see if using straw will make a difference in the soil’s consistency. I’ll find out next spring how well this latest effort works out.

This morning, our focus turned to canning, putting into bottles, the sauerkraut that has been ageing. We ended up with over fifty pints of sauerkraut when done. This afternoon, I finished up the tilling I had begun yesterday afternoon. Now, It’s time for a cuppa tea on the back deck with our neighbours. Of course, that will be a “wearing clothing” event.

 

Surprises While Skyclad and Pruning

Preparing our bushes for winter with a pruning.

I have been busy in the yard today, as the temperatures are warming up. While doing the pruning as pictured to the left, it was a balmy 18 Celsius. Little did I realise that the activity would become a lesson for me.

My neighbour walked into the yard in order to borrow a leaf blower. Nothing unusual with this as neighbours borrow things when needed. My wife had set out the leaf blower for her on a bench beside the garage. When she entered the yard and saw me pruning, she gave a start and began apologising for intruding on my space. My first thoughts were, “Oh, shit, I am in for it now. I’ve just offended one of my wife’s best friends.” Before much could be said, she went to the bench and picked up the blower then left the yard, again apologising.

Later, when I was done with my pruning, which I continued to do while skyclad, I went into the house and put on some clothes. I knew that “we” needed to have a talk as this is the neighbour who had just removed the trees, and in the process exposed my back deck to her view, as well as any who might visit her. She was still working in the yard, and came over to talk with me on the deck. She reaffirmed my earlier beliefs that my nudity wasn’t offensive to her. She was simply surprised as she thought I wasn’t in the yard. Had she known, she would have waited until another time to get the leaf blower.  She didn’t display any signs of nervousness or uneasiness while talking with me.

What I learned was that though nudity wasn’t her thing, she had no issue with my being a nudist in my own yard. With that lesson, I realise that the real issue is inside my own head. I also learned (well was reminded) that my yard is a mini community space with regard to my neighbours. And, as such, I need to pick and choose my time nude in the yard with more care so as to not shock or cause any distress. Almost all of my neighbours are women, older women who have not had the best of lives at the had of the men in their pasts.

This isn’t about being afraid of being reported, but more about being sensitive to needs of others. I wonder how this will look for me in the future when it comes to my being nude in my back yard. I am not about to build privacy fences with locked gates. Our neighbours are friends.