Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Time For Reflection

Rocking chair reading

Rocking chair reading

I am away from home for better than a week with my first stop being at the home of my youngest grandchild. While away from home, my time for naturist activity is reduced to almost none. Yet, this isn’t as bad as it might sound as time with family is probably the best time that exists. I have dug out an old photo from last year to give you and idea of just what my home looks like from the inside. It is a place filled with light and love.

I am grateful for all that I do have. My home is filled with objects such as this rocking chair, which I have restored and brought back into usefulness after too many years of being abandoned. They remind me that everyone and everything has a purpose that is not dated or time-stamped. Nothing is too old, or too used, or too new, or too inexperienced. If I could set aside the notions of the past and the future and experience the fullness of the present, I can avoid those uncomfortable feelings of anxiety for the future and regret and loss of the past.

If the Soul is Unhappy, the Body Suffers

Nudity and body consciousness

Nudity and body consciousnes

As I stood on the scale this morning and once again found the dial stopping at 163 lbs, I was encouraged that this number has held for almost a week. It wasn’t long ago that I weighed between 177 and 182 lbs, a weight that had suddenly appeared on my body back in the 1990’s. Before that time, I weighed between 145 and 155 depending on the season – was it road racing season or not. I ran and competed for many years at various distances from 5 km to 42.2 km.

In the 1990’s things changed. First on the change agenda was the shift into midlife where the foundations of what we believe about ourselves and our purpose in life undergoes a revolution. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was then that I began to revisit my past – or should I say that my past decided I had buried it for too long and it needed to be aired out so that the records could be set straight. And then one of my brothers committed suicide. The whole lot sent me into analysis. I knew what was happening to me as I had been dealing with others as a psychotherapist. And so, like a good trooper, off I went to wrestle with dreams, nightmares, and memories that decided to haunt me.

“Fixed,” or so I thought, I returned to work with a will and a vengeance. I didn’t return to running as I had mysteriously developed heel spurs. My weight went up and my fitness levels went down. My work in education began to be affected as well though my counselling practice continued to thrive. There were unresolved issues that decided that it was their turn to put in an appearance which resulted in my hurrying back into analysis in order to deal with these issues so that I could just as quickly return to a productive life. More years passed and the pattern was again repeated.

Following the last series of analysis, things have radically changed. The heel spurs have disappeared, a desire to test my body, and a desire to return to a better appreciation of my physical, emotional, psychological and social self re-emerged from some deep hidden place. As a result, I am getting physically stronger and my weight is slowly dropping. I know I am not “there” yet, there meaning where I am at a state of balanced well-being. However, I know that it is coming closer and will be achieved.

Camping in the City

Naked in a public, city campground, within a camping trailer add-on

Naked in a public, city campground, within a camping trailer add-on

Somewhere along the way, I question whether I need nudity, or is it just something that is enjoyable. I do enjoy being without clothing, and like most who espouse a naturist philosophy, I especially enjoy the sense of freedom. So, in the interest of finding out just how important nudity is to me, I have tried restricting occasions for nudity, as well as trying to quit cold turkey. Quitting didn’t work out well. And, as for cutting back. that is such a minefield of assumptions that more often don’t hold much truth.

For example, limiting nudity to just in the house does leave a person “wishing” and “wanting” more. Limiting nudity to just a few rooms in the house starts to change one’s psychological dynamics. Why this room and not the other room? Is one room safer than the other? Is nudity in one room more offensive to others than nudity in a different room? Bedrooms are the safest zones; home offices are likely the next safest, especially if you are the only one working in that room. Yet in a shared space like a living room one perhaps starts to confront the “comfort zones” of others who share that communal space. For others, nudity in the kitchen is just too much to handle, even if they are comfortable with the nudity of others in all other shared spaces. Of course, none of this is of concern for anyone who lives alone, or lives with others who are confirmed nudists in practice as well as in heart.

Opening the door to the house and stepping outside of that safe zone can often present problems for both the naturist and others who are averse to seeing other humans naked. Why is there something stirring within that prods one to take such risks. I took such a risk as we camped in the middle of a city, surrounded by many others in their camping trailers, as the image illustrates. Why? I needed some time clothing free. In my mind, the enclosure allowed me to be nude without having to deal with others being offended. Yet, I could have stayed within the camping trailer. What is it that is at work here?

I have heard from others who wait until dark to go into their back yards. My wife and children and I used to make night skinny dipping a ritual at most of our camping adventures in various provincial and regional parks. My wife and I have also gone on night skinny dips in many of the different seas around the world. Others wait until early dawn when there is enough light to see to rush out with garbage while in the nude. Usually there is more of a rush knowing that one of the neigbours could have seen the nude foray. Risks are taken in many ways. How do you risk public exposure of your naked self outside of nude beaches and nudist venues? And perhaps an even more important question – Why?

Nudity and Full Disclosure

Full disclosure? Or, just nude.

Full disclosure? Or, just nude.

Continuing on from yesterday’s post regarding authenticity, I am bringing two photos, or should I say the same photo with one being cropped.

Is there any less full disclosure?

Is there any less full disclosure?

As I see it, there is the same affect regardless if the genitals are exposed or not, just as there would be no difference in full disclosure whether one is naked or clothed. Honesty has nothing to do clothing or its absence. Naturism is not really about honesty when it comes to the psyche, what naturism does mean is that one potentially responds with more respect for one’s body and one’s environment, something that is very commendable. By itself, engaging in naturism is a surface or outer body honesty. What is going on beneath the outer layer is complex, very complex.

In truth, one can only intentionally disclose what one knows about oneself. As both Freud and Jung taught us many years ago about the nature of human consciousness, that area, the egois only a very small part of the whole self. The rest of who we are exists in our unconsciousness and are shadow contents. Some things about ourselves that we are unaware of, things we deny when others have the courage to tell us what they know about us, are what can best be described as our blind side. Others are conscious of parts of ourselves where we are unconscious. I know – it should be simpler, much simpler than this. And, for those who live a more instinctual life, blessedly unconscious of their depths and the depths of others, there is a real belief that what you see is what you get.

Nudity and Authenticity

Hidden behind a nude body.

Hidden behind a nude body.

I am going to be using images from the past – in black and white – here for a while as I move through the beginning of our camping season. I am not sure why this appeals to me at this time other than it causes me to be more reflective of where I have been and perhaps where I am going to. I am wondering if black and white photography, which was my first training as a photographer at university so many decades ago, will evoke a more psychological portal.

Naturism is not just about taking off one’s clothing. Nothing is that simple for us humans. For example, this photo was taken last summer while our roses were in full bloom. In the photo, the central focus is not on the roses, but on my face which isn’t betraying much in the way of emotion. It doesn’t matter that I am nude, with pubic hair removed as well as most of the other body hair on my body. I was physically exposed, but still disguised so that no one could see the truth of who I was behind my eyes and beneath my skin.

Naturism almost always talks about the honesty of being naked, as if by removing one’s clothing, one reveals the authentic person that one really is behind the clothing. That is simplistic thinking. Who we are as individuals is so complex that even we are not really aware of our own depths. We have a limited consciousness about who we are. We consciously carve out an identity in relationship with others, or so we think. With this conscious knowledge of who we are, we make decisions about just how much to reveal. The naked body is just that, a naked body, not our identity or our conscious sense of self. When others meet us when we are naked, they still have a lot to learn about us in order to know us as more than just a body.

The image above lets us know that in spite of nudity, there remains a real mystery. The play of shadow lets us know that not everything is exposed, that there are things hidden in the shadows.

What do you think? Is nudity enough for being authentic?

Naturism and Being Honest With Self and God

Talking a walk in the countryside, away from houses and highways.

Talking a walk in the countryside, away from houses and highways.

Today I was able to get out for a walk in the warm sunshine without having to wear clothing. I only had to drive about seven kilometres where I parked the car on a rarely used dirt road. From that point on, there were no farm houses or highways to intrude on my privacy. It was an incredible feeling having the sunshine warm me to the very core of my being while I walked another two kilometres on the faint trail. I have claimed this small part of the universe as my retreat centre.

Going without clothing is not about exhibitionism, at least when there is no one around and very little likelihood that anyone would appear on this long abandoned trail. Just in case, I did have a pair of pants as a cover-up if I was to see a farmer out seeding his new crop. Being alone on the back-country prairie hills, I have no intention of creating drama within my home area. Going without clothes is, for me, something very spiritual in nature. On the trail there is just mother nature, father sky and myself. This becomes my church, my place to be honest with myself and my creator. No cover-up, no lies.

 

Revealing And Exposing The Hidden Inner World

Exploring the boundaries of self

Exploring the boundaries of self

It’s been a while since my last post. Now that I am back home and waiting for some warmth and sunshine to gift me with the opportunity to spend time in the prairie hills, away from town and deep into nature, I am left with filling waiting time with reading, research and some writing. Retirement is providing me with the opportunity to fully experience being present in my life rather than being present in an organisation. Regardless of the organisation, be it a school, a factory, a corporation, or a hospital among the myriad kinds of organisations that provide us with an identity and a purpose in society, a person needs to find an identity and purpose that can only be found within their own body, mind and soul.

I have been exploring those boundaries of my own identity through poetry, much of it which has been shared here, I wrote without conscious intention to control the content in order for images to emerge. I didn’t write the poetry in order to fit with pre-existing photographs. With no photos taken, the question then became, do these poems stand alone without images? For those who have their copy of my first book of poetry, Naked Poetry By the Sea and On the Prairies, you are familiar with how I had an image for each poem. When I began the second book, I had the same intention – but, no photos were taken.

My wife remarked that these poems might be difficult to match with photos. She is correct, as usual. However, difficult does not mean impossible. So now, I have a challenge before me, to find the scenes that will capture some of the images in the poems, and photograph them. I also want to find a way to include others in these images; others who are naturists. And so, I have a task awaiting me – tracking down the images for my next book of poetry which is as much psychological and spiritual as it is about the naked human form.

At Work, Naturally

Basement Bathroom Renovations

Basement Bathroom Renovations

This weekend I have been busy at my son-in-law’s home helping with basement renovations. The work didn’t get finished, so I found myself with the freedom to work alone and to work nude. It’s a good feeling, especially since it is so cold out that taking time to find a quiet outdoor space for sunbathing just wasn’t going to happen.

When I am alone, I do almost everything wearing nothing but my birthday suit. The only concessions I make are for weather and safety. Sometimes there are tasks that require protection of the body. To try to do everything nude is not an intelligent decision.

A person has to consider a number of factors before deciding to go nude. To disregard this conscious evaluation of the environment is an act of fundamentalism, one that ignores reality in favour of doctrine, or better yet, dogma. Being hard-headed only sets up a situation for unnecessary conflict were there are no winners.

Navigating Depression With Nudity

There exists in each of us, a shadow we deny.

There exists in each of us, a shadow we deny.

I took this photo more than four years ago while suffering from a bout of depression. I was rebelling against the work, the psychological work of uncovering the dark stuff within me, stuff that I often projected onto others. We all do this though we don’t realise it, nor would we admit it if we were cornered.

It is hard for me to understand which came first, the tendency towards depression, or the traumata that was visited upon me during my childhood, boyhood and youth. I guess it doesn’t really matter. But at times I wonder. Did I have a genetic inheritance of depression? Was that predisposition to depression a factor in marking me as a candidate for abuse by others? Or, was the realities of being abused the root source of depression? I am lucky; I survived where many others didn’t including one of my brothers who couldn’t handle the shame and the pain.

I say I am lucky even though I continue to cycle through bouts of depression. Thankfully, the depressive cycles are becoming shorter in terms of duration. I bounce out of these descents due to a number of things, the first of which is an abiding love for me by my wife. When I suffer, she suffers. Yet rather than running away in order to save her sanity and claim a better life, she chooses me. As well.

Nudity is a second reason for being able to navigate through depression and emerge back into the light, that is the choice to make time for myself, clothes-free time. I learned this strategy at an early age, somewhere around the age of seventeen. The third piece of the puzzle that has allowed me to better manage was an immersion into depth psychology, training to become a therapist and a good number of years serving as a guide as clients came for help to my office. And finally, the work of writing, telling my stories, listening to the words I have written that seemed to come from outside of me. With grace and patience, I find myself still here, still breathing, and knowing how to offer love back.

Gardening Au Naturel – WNGD

Every year it is necessary to pound in sticks of evergreen fertilizer, the first gardening task in the spring.

Every year it is necessary to pound in sticks of evergreen fertilizer, the first gardening task in the spring.

As is the practice every year, the first gardening task is to pound in fertilizer sticks around the base of all of our cedars along the front of the house and in our back yard. This year, I was able to do this work in the back yard while au naturel as it is a private part of our yard, out of the eyes of our neighbours. Thankfully, it was a sunny day and the yard was protected from the breezes that were quite cool. The air temperature while working in the yard was a crisp 7 C / 44 F, yet it didn’t seem that cold out at all. I thank the sun for being able to feel warm and do this work nude.

Today is World Naked Gardening Day [WNGD], an event celebrated internationally by naturists and non-naturists alike. It is always set for the first Saturday in May which at times is a problem for naturists in northern climates such as the Canadian prairies. Some years there is still snow to cope with, not conducive in the least to garden activity out-of-doors. However, there is always the taking care of nursery plants in greenhouses or in our homes. Because of short growing seasons, many Canadians start their tomato plants, green peppers and flowering plants in their homes.

There is a lot of publicity directed to World Naked Bike Ride [WNBR] which is a clothing optional event that makes its way down busy streets in numerous large cities around the world. In spite of its name, only a minority of bike riders in these events participate fully nude. However, with WNGD, if you aren’t nude, you really aren’t taking part. Gardening is always clothing optional and doesn’t need a special day on the calendar for those who love the freedom of working naked in their gardens. How did you celebrate World Naked Gardening Day?