Monthly Archives: September 2013

Turning From Outer to Inner Living

Last for the season in our new-to-us camping trailer.

Last for the season in our new-to-us camping trailer.

The wind is blowing again, not yet quite as hard as yesterday, but hard enough to be knocking down as many leaves as possible leaving the trees looking rather naked if you ask me, skeletal even. Again the temperature dipped to the freezing mark over night, enough to convince me to winterize the camper and park it in a quiet safe place near our home. I’m not the greatest handyman in the world, but I did manage to do the task without breaking something in the process. I wisely decided to read the instruction manual several times, discuss it with my wife and then put the manual beside me as I worked through the process, step by step. And as a reward, I am now back in the house, clothing free, and writing. Life is good.

My poetry book is now complete, including photos and formatting. All that remains is to have my astute, skilled and kind reader get back to me on the actual poems themselves. Once that task is dealt with, I will be clicking on the publish button using the Blurb service and then ordering a copy or two for myself. I will put the ordering link here for anyone interested in purchasing the book. I will also consider ePublishing the book using Smashwords for those who want to buy an e-version of the book.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

Now, my attention is shifting to building an outline for my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. Naturally it looks to be a curious blend of naturism, Jungian psychology and humour (if I can make it work). That project starts on November 1st and finished on November 30th. Can I focus on it for a full month in order to write a minimum of 50,000 words? Maybe, maybe not. But, the experience will be valuable for me in terms of both discipline and developing skills.

Just as an aside, I bought two used books while in the city a few days ago – Dark Eros, by Thomas Moore; and Nature, Man and Woman, by Alan Watts. I can hardly wait for the time when I begin to delve into these two books. Besides new reading material, I am again making time for learning more Spanish in preparation for another three months in Mexico. With that said, it’s time to leave this space and get on with the other things in life.

Naked and Vulnerable

My workplace bathed in sunshine.

My workplace bathed in sunshine.

A sunny day and very windy with cool temperatures is the gift that nature has given me this morning as I sit here in front of my laptop in my office. The rays of the sun are coming through the window warming my back as I write this post. This moment won’t last too long as the sun shifts from east to west.

In another corner of the room I have my cushion in place for my morning meditation. I guess I could best describe this room, not as an office, but as a sanctuary where I can “just sit” or write furiously when the demands of my inner voices fill me with the urge to write.

Speaking of urges to write, I have decided to attempt writing a novel during the month of November. As I was reading Ed Raby Sr.’s blog post about writing as therapy, I noticed that was going to be taking on this challenge. I then realised that I had promised myself, many years ago, to write a novel. Perhaps I am now old enough to make this attempt and have a novel worth reading. I don’t yet know what I will write about, but I am not worried about it.

My focus for the moment is to finish my Poetic Naturist book. I am having a trusted colleague read the poems with a critical eye while I struggle with gathering the photos for this collection of poetry. Why images? Well, it is just how it is with me. When it comes to depth, to soul, to the spirit I find a compulsion to bring in images in order to access the depths. It is as though images open doors that take me out of the mundane world and into an rich, fertile, inner world.

Now that I am talking about images, I want to talk about images and naturism. I want to preface my thoughts here with the caveat that I am talking about nudity and images from a point of having the images point to something deeper than the exposed skin. Like writing, this leads to a therapeutic depth as it serves as a liminal portal, a doorway through which we can break down, uncover and expose those aspects that limit out growth. The image then becomes more than simply a recording of a person’s state of undress.

Images that take us into soul, into depth.

Images that take us into soul, into depth.

Is it necessary to have images of nudity to accomplish this need for depth? Obviously I think so. And, I have to say that I have a lot of good company with this thinking. One of the images that achieves this aspect of being more than an image of nudity, is that of Adam reaching out to touch a finger of God. Rather than being a pornographic image, Michelangelo’s image was captured forever on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the seat of Christianity of the past and the seat of Catholicism in the present. Full frontal nudity is here, holy. It is total honesty and totally human. There is no sense of sin, of evil, of darkness.

Psychologically, this is what many experience, unconsciously, when the discover the exhilarating freedom of  naturism. And, this is an engagement in depth that connects body with soul. Healing then becomes and act of rediscovering the wholeness of being human, and the holiness of our creation – naked and vulnerable.

 

The Therapeutic Journal -or- Writing As Therapy

Writing as therapy

Writing as therapy

I have been busy with my poetry project as usual, but I did take time out to read a few other blogs by some of my favourite bloggers. Writing As Jo(e) has an interesting project called The Naked Photo Project. Jo(e) teaches writing in an American college and takes photographs. Her Naked Photo Project has its own blog site holding the photos which are about as natural and sensitive to the human spirit as can be found in a single collection. Her most recent post adds one more photo to the project, but more important than the photo is her writing which sets the context for the photo. As I read the stories of each of these photos, I can feel how each story has worked on the author as she tells it. I can also see how each participant in the project grows through interaction with the author and through involvement with the Naked Photo Project. I don’t doubt that the process is therapeutic for Jo(e) as well as her subjects. But I am sure she will tell us that in her own words in her book that will grow out of the project.

Another blog site I read contains a lot of humour and often nonsense. I know the blogger personally and that has added immeasurably to how I read his blog site, Spo Reflections. Dr. ‘Spo has just published his 3,000th blog post since the first post in 2006, a site that has had more than a million visits since that time. Dr. ‘Spo is a psychiatrist and there is no doubt in my mind that he finds writing a valuable act of therapy for himself. I know that it is good therapy for anyone simply reading the blog posts.

A third site visited today was another prolific writer, Pastor Ed Raby Sr., who writes at All Things Rabyd. Recently, Pastor Ed wrote a post on writing as therapy.  I invite you to read this post of Pastor Ed’s as well as one of his many developed themes at this site. It will be time well spent.

I brought up all three blog sites as a preface to my own writing as therapy. As a therapist, I know that there is great value, therapeutic value in journalling, in the telling of one’s story to oneself as well as to others. Like dreams, the story-telling works without conscious intention to heal, the goal of all therapeutic activities. We take it for granted that patients, clients, students and parishioners come to learn and in the process, heal from their guides, teachers, doctors, pastors and therapists. Yet, also embedded in this work is a reciprocal healing process, a needed healing for each of us is wounded whether we are conscious of that wounding or not. As a school administrator I counselled students and staff alike. As a counsellor, I also was counselled by a trusted therapist. Analysis/Therapy/Counselling is a necessity for all in the field of mental health. I often, not always, found it useful for my clients to keep therapeutic journals such as in the image above.

I take photographs and I write. These two things have likely done more for my finding and maintaining a decent level of mental health. Both photography and writing bring balance to my life. I don’t write to figure things out, I write and things straighten themselves out below my level of conscious awareness. In my opinion, it is vital to simply let the words emerge, to listen to those words without analyzing them. Analysis of one’s writing, removes the depth that is naturally embedded, flattening out and trimming off what I could best describe as soul and shadow, two vital components to being whole and healthy.

The Sharp Clarity of Autumn Sunshine

Autumn morning on the Canadian Prairies

Autumn morning on the Canadian Prairies

I took this photo just moments ago from my back deck looking out at my garden shed which is covered with Virginia Creeper that has turned a beautiful red and gold.

Yes, it is now 3 degrees Celsius

Yes, it is now 3 Celsius

It is quite cool this morning on the prairies, and yes, I am writing this while wearing nothing but my skin. The sunlight does an admirable job in giving off a lot of warmth through the windows making the house feel quite warm, warm enough to avoid having to turn on central heating. Like almost all Canadian naturists, there is a shift from outdoor nudity to indoor nudity. As I noted in the last post, one takes advantage of where and when for nudity. When it gets colder out, then the heating system has to be turned on regardless of whether wants to be clothes-free or buried under layers of clothing.

With autumn now fully entrenched on the prairies, we are all aware here that winter is breathing down our necks. For those who are able to, there is a rush to book flights and accommodations in the warm, sunny south. Canadians are called snowbirds for a reason. Like the Canada Goose, we fly south in order to keep warm. And yes, our tickets are bought and paid for as are our accommodations for three months of winter. I don’t mind indoor nude living, but I do prefer to have ample time for simply being outside with nothing between myself and the sun except for air. How do you cope with winter cold and snow as a naturist or nudist?

Nude When Possible – Reframing the Naturist Agenda

Getting depressed and staying depressed.

Getting depressed and staying depressed.

We had visitors from yesterday afternoon until today, mid-morning. The couple who had arrived to spend the night are always welcome visitors and it doesn’t take long before discussion began to take in as many topics as could be fitted into the time between meals and card games. Religion, Politics, Syria, Gun Control, Education, Immigration, Health Care, First Nations, the Economy and missed opportunities in trading stocks were just some of the topics that were covered. It wasn’t long before a sense of almost hopelessness about the situation in the world settled in. Finding and naming problems seemed so easy, yet approaching solutions ran into roadblocks. Neither of us seemed to know where answers would come from, how we would make the next steps, even what those next steps could be. In a way, it was all quite depressing. As we looked at our country and the world around us, we were ashamed and depressed of how it was all turning out.

A portion of the suffering in depression comes from our inability to give it language and imagery. It feels vague and therefore without meaning. We don’t know what to do because we don’t know what it is.” [Moore, Original Self, p. 33]

In spite of the stalemate, we discarded the topics in favour of card games and some wine. We knew we didn’t know where to begin or even what the real cause of all these problems were.

Nudity is banned - keep your clothes on.

Nudity is banned so keep your clothes on.

Now, my guests are gone and I am taking time to reflect on the mood that arose from our discussions. It seems that everything that has value to us is being tested in order to have us make choices about just what we value and how much we value these things. What do we want, need, regardless of obstacles? What are we willing to give up knowing we can’t have it all? And why?

For me, at this time in my life, naturism is a vital part of my life. I need to experience being free of clothing at times. It’s as though it allows my body to breathe. I had to risk communicating this need to my wife and in the process, risk respect continuing in our relationship. If I would have stayed silent, I would have become more depressed in trying to hide and repress this need. I was lucky – perhaps not as lucky as having already established a significant level of trust, tolerance and openness with each other.

Nude when possible.

Nude when possible.

That is an individual case study, but what of the growing intolerance of naturism in the larger society which was never very tolerant of nudity to start with? What is the problem? Can we actually name it? Well, as I realised last night, the problem begins and ends with the individual. And, the solution begins and ends with the individual. We constantly forget that all communities, all societies are simply gatherings of individuals.

So I need to turn back and look at myself. What is problematic for me? That is actually a hard question, for as I search for the words to speak what I need, I find myself struggling to find the words to describe the stirrings and needs and fears and hopes that lay within. So I find myself stepping back into simpler tasks – simply getting nude when possible. As I have been doing this, I find that I begin to stretch the “when possible” definition. Of course, in doing this I begin to bump into situations where I am faced with fear and indecision.

Yet, I risk and dare and in the process, there are more and more possibilities found. Now, my neighbours know of my time spent naked. As they come to the door and find me greeting them wearing a towel or a wrap, they sense my nudity even though I am technically not nude. Relationships with neighbours is not deteriorating or disappearing. Individual to individual we are simple discovering and rediscovering the reality of a known and accepted person.

Now, if all of us did something as simple as this, gently and slowly stretching the boundaries of nude when possible, the larger problem shrinks. If we confront the larger community, there is a significant reactive response that typically ends up with the “nude when possible” opportunities shrinking. At least, this is how I see it at this point in time.

Gender an Individuality

Beneath the clothes we discover gender and identity.

Beneath the clothes we discover gender and identity.

Gender is an aspect of our individuality.”  These words from Thomas Moore got me thinking about gender and my own identity. When a person is nude, gender is an obviously physical thing as this image illustrates. But what gender are we as individuals? The obvious answers are either male or female, but as science and life teaches us, there isn’t always an obvious answer even on the basic physical level. When it comes to the psychological level it gets even more complicated. Identity is forged individual by individual and we still don’t have a full knowledge of how gender and identity are tied in with our physical bodies. The scientific and supposedly objective criteria of defining gender by one’s chromosomal configuration falls flat on its face when confronted by bodies appearing to be male or female, which contradict what the chromosomal structure would have us believe. Hormone therapy, surgery, and other strategies used by a considerable number of people to have their bodies reflect the gender that is buried within their individual psyches.

There are no clear answers when it comes to gender.

There are no clear answers when it comes to gender.

Perhaps, Thomas Moore has it right when he says that “Gender is a state of mind, a product of the imagination.” Of course, Moore is talking about how each of us self-identifies based on psychological rather than simply physiological factors. Our physical bodies are containers, not the sum total of who we are as human beings and individuals. We experience our bodies and develop relationships with these bodies we find ourselves in. Most often the inner self (the psychological self) and the outer self (the physiological self) are in accord and we are comfortable in male bodies with a solid masculine sense of identity, or females with a solid feminine sense of identity. But even that simplistic self-identity is charged with unnamed influences both within and without to cause confusion. We are each individuals with individual histories in unique settings and contexts and relationships.

I am a man and feel myself to be fully masculine, but . . . and it seems for each of us there is a niggling but somewhere in the background lurking . . . but what I experience as my masculinity isn’t what any other man experiences and understands. And, as I get older, I find myself, both physically and psychologically, mellowing in my grounded identity as a man and as masculine. The hard edges are being eroded allowing me to become a fuller person, richer.

Poetry Through a Naturist's Lens

download (1)I have begun to put my book of naturist themed poetry together. I am using the Blurb templates as I have for my previous books which I have featured at my other site, Through a Jungian Lens. I am not sure yet, but I think the book will be softcover with poems alternating with photos that hopefully will add to the overall experience. The working title of the book is Poetry Through a Naturist’s Lens, not very original, but it does keep with way I have approached all of my writing here on Through a Naturist’s Lens. This isn’t an advertisement for Blurb, but simply a statement of fact. I could have chosen a different service, but it would have meant beginning to focus on the software rather than on the actual process of editing and compilation for my book.

As I begin the process, I find that I am working with the poems at had, fine-tuning them as I condense them in hopes of making each line worth reading and hearing. I find myself adding in missing parts and removing the wordy parts. It isn’t going as quickly as I had originally thought it would. I had assumed that since the poetry already existed that it would simply be a matter of copying and pasting then adding the relevant photos.  I should know better since I have done this before. Oh well, back to the task, a task done best while clothing free.

Poetry Through a Naturist’s Lens

download (1)I have begun to put my book of naturist themed poetry together. I am using the Blurb templates as I have for my previous books which I have featured at my other site, Through a Jungian Lens. I am not sure yet, but I think the book will be softcover with poems alternating with photos that hopefully will add to the overall experience. The working title of the book is Poetry Through a Naturist’s Lens, not very original, but it does keep with way I have approached all of my writing here on Through a Naturist’s Lens. This isn’t an advertisement for Blurb, but simply a statement of fact. I could have chosen a different service, but it would have meant beginning to focus on the software rather than on the actual process of editing and compilation for my book.

As I begin the process, I find that I am working with the poems at had, fine-tuning them as I condense them in hopes of making each line worth reading and hearing. I find myself adding in missing parts and removing the wordy parts. It isn’t going as quickly as I had originally thought it would. I had assumed that since the poetry already existed that it would simply be a matter of copying and pasting then adding the relevant photos.  I should know better since I have done this before. Oh well, back to the task, a task done best while clothing free.

Autumn Colours Dress Up Seasonal Change

Hiking through autumn colours on the Meewasin Valley Trail, part of the TransCanada Trail mark the autumnal equinox 2013

Hiking through autumn colours on the Meewasin Valley Trail, part of the TransCanada Trail mark the autumnal equinox 2013 in Saskatoon, Canada

Brrr! I love autumn, even with the chill in the air that has leaves turning various colours as we found to our pleasant surprise with the first day of autumn for 2013. We have been doing a lot of hiking with good sun conditions and cooler temperatures with some of our walks between 15 and 20 kilometres in length. Over the past four days we have walked about 45 kilometres and thrown in an evening of dancing in for good measure. Of course all of these activities were clothed activities. Since we do live in a community that is phobic about nudity, there is no pushing limits simply to make a point with negative results for us as well as the community. Besides, as the first word noted, it is quite cool outside.

 

No One Has a Clue So Follow Your Soul

BTbwEfGCcAApeQfIn an earlier post I talked about how naturism is a deviant practice in reference to the modern world in which I and many other naturists find ourselves. When I say deviant, I am not declaring a state of immorality or evilness. Rather, I am strictly talking about the practice of naturalism within the context of the modern western world, especially that of Northern America. The larger society is phobic about keeping clothing on regardless of the weather and activity conditions. Common sense is not a consideration. I like how Thomas Moore looks at the term deviancy as “veering off the straight line.”

“Humans often have a preference for straight lines. We think of evolution and human development as following an uncrooked path toward perfection. We expect our neighbors to walk the straight and narrow”.

Religion somehow, likely through the process of falling into and growing power in a world that was ripe for exploitation, began to believe its own messages which were created to increase and solidify its power, messages which basically said to give up personal autonomy in favour of the collective ruled by the Church. In accepting the authority of the Church as the true and only mediator between the Divine and self, people learned to be sheep. Tolerance of the outliers, those who didn’t fit too well into the role of sheep was lost and in its place, grew a fear that the collective would suffer for the actions, the straying away from the straight and narrow. The Church reinforced this collective believe blaming all the misfortunes of life and nature on the presence of these outliers.

Today the church has been supplanted in power by the economy where the dollars are doled out to the sheep who follow the new straight and narrow, one that keeps the church as ally. Fear of being denied heaven has been replaced with fear of losing all the riches promised and given for following the straight and narrow. Heaven and earth – both at risk. No wonder there is no tolerance for those unable or unwilling to follow a straight line through life.

But some, find themselves circling through life like the seasons. A different reality, a different heaven catches the attention, a reality and heaven that isn’t based on fear. All that is asked is to honour the soul of the earth, the soul of humanity and one’s personal soul. Rather than retreat from confrontation with the dark moments, the tragedies, the storms and winter; we are invited, perhaps even required to get caught up in the seasons of life rather than spend all of our energy trying to go in a straight line to some dubious final destination.