Naturism and Mixed Feelings of Freedom and Sadness

“Who am I posing for?” – “Am I really feeling free?”

I was at an event the other day, selling and signing books when I met a man who had no intention to buy a book. Yet, for some reason or other, he stopped by my table with one of his friends. It was obvious to me that this was a man that had reached that point in his life which we call a “midlife crisis.” In his own words to me, he admitted that he had become a man he didn’t respect anymore. In all likelihood, I will find a message from him on my office phone [he took my business card] with the request to work with me on becoming a better man.

It was this chance meeting [or was it really chance?] that leads me to write about midlife crisis. This is what my friend, a Canadian Jungian analyst, Daryl Sharp had to say about midlife crisis:

“those in their middle years … who have always managed quite well, have held down a job, perhaps married and had children, and then one day find that nothing works any more. They suffer terrible moods … they have dark thoughts … their outlook is bleak. They lose energy and ambition … Life has no meaning. They hurt and have thoughts of suicide.”

“Or am I thinking/wondering/worrying about what someone else will think when they see this photo?”

These words tell the truth that some face with a midlife crisis. For others, it is not so bleak. Yet, there are things that happen to indicate a radical shift. In the world of naturism, predominantly for men, there is a vital need to shake the world up, to reinvent the wheel, to be someone else. I have one new friend, Happy Harold, who has recently become involved in the world of naturism who perhaps echoes this shift from the way it was in a textile universe, to a new way of being in the naturist universe.

“I think that co-existing with this freedom and happiness is a sadness that I’m carrying inside.”

This new friend shared some photos to be used with this blog post, naturist photos. He explained how he felt a surge of freedom, yet as he stated, “co-existing with this freedom and happiness is a sadness that I’m carrying inside.” I won’t say that he is suffering a midlife crisis though I will say that his choice of words provided me with an open doorway to speak to this theme that I feel touches many of us who find ourselves navigating to a new way of being in the world as a naturist.

As my new friend wondered, there is a sadness that seems to be mixed in with the freedom of being nude in nature. That sadness is about the loss of the old way of being in the world, a way of being that just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.


The Naked Truth About Relationship

Sunday morning in the rain.

It’s raining again. For a while, the mosquitoes are hiding and it is a good time to play in the rain, at least for a little while. However, since I don’t have the yard to myself, and the fact that there are security cams monitoring the place, my time outside the casa was very limited.

Cleaning up one’s mess.

Making myself a second cup of coffee, I returned to the upper balcony to begin working again on my various writing projects, including this post. Then, with coffee time over and breakfast eaten, I took the time to clean up my working space on the balcony beginning with sweeping up all the ashes from the mosquito coils and the small leaves that had blown in from the surrounding greenery. Added to the mess was water that had blown in while it had been raining during the night.

It’s a lot like dealing with one’s relationships. No matter how hard we try, we are going to make messes when we are in relationships. However when it comes to relationships unlike one’s physical surroundings, it’s not easy to say who is exactly responsible for the messes. Is it his mess? Her mess? It doesn’t really matter. If there are two people in a relationship, both are responsible for the messes that are made. Both have shadow sides, both are unconsciously projecting personal stuff on the other and blaming their partner.

Relationships require work, serious work if they are to survive. And even with both parties committed and giving everything they have doesn’t always save a relationship. Think of a relationship as an onion. As one peels away the projections and takes ownership of one’s own issues, one gets to see the other in the relationship more clearly. Over time, as the layers disappear, the real test comes. Who is this stranger now in front of you, that person upon whom you projected perfection when you fell in love with them appears to have changed. Rather than blaming them for having changed, it is necessary to understand that it is you who has changed and now sees with a more conscious vision. Yes, the other has changed as well as they have done the same thing in doing this relationship work. Both have come to know themselves a lot better.

One is then left with the question, who is this person with whom I am in a relationship? What do we have together that brings out the best in us as individuals? Do I have to deny parts of myself to ensure that the relationship survives? Must I sacrifice those parts that allow me to smile and breathe? I’m not talking about love, for love is something outside of these questions. As one wise person once told me, “What good is your love for me if it leaves you depressed with yourself?” Therein lies the key. It is only when we can honour the self while in relationship, that we can truly love the “other” unconditionally.

Life in a Different Naturist Lane

Very early in the morning considering options for nudity.

Since it has been some time since my last appearance here, I figured it was about time to let everyone know that I am still wandering around the planet. For the most part, I am staying out of mischief which translates that I am keeping my clothes on. Life here in Olon, Ecuador makes finding nude time next to impossible. We have a nice place to live until our return to Canada in March, but the situation is anything but private. As a result, I realise that in the future I will have to consider where I choose to spend cold winter months much more carefully.

Does the owner have security cameras installed monitoring the entrances to the lodgings? Is the site busy with workers coming and going making being nude in the lodgings more difficult because of being potentially viewable by the workers present from morning through the evening? Is the garden a shared space with other people? What if any space exists for nude time?  I didn’t ask any of these questions and all of the answers would have told me – nudity? privacy? a sanctuary … nope, not possible.

So for now, that means a clothing-compulsory life outside of the bedroom and bathroom until I return to winter on the Canadian prairies. There is no place for nude meditation or nude writing other than within the bedroom during the day as long as the blinds are closed.

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?

Challenging Others With One’s Nudity

Holly in her hot tub as a reward for a day well spent.

It’s interesting how weather reflects what we do and when we do it. In the U.K. my friend Holly enjoys sunshine while here on the prairies in  Canada, we are under dark skies with very cool temperatures, occasional drizzle, and a breeze that makes it feel even colder.

Blustery day by the lake

Needless to say, I didn’t spend much time in the water. Yes, I did go in for a short while, but the water was definitely not warm.

The scene above with dark clouds, is reflective of how I am experiencing my life at the moment. I slip, periodically, into regions of darkness where the rules don’t seem to exist; that is, rules which keep one balanced and “civilised.” In this state of mind, I have been known to burn my journals, permanently delete photos (of myself only), and cause psychic mayhem. Knowing this, I am listening closely to what is bubbling within. Often, the shadow has something important to teach me. And in doing this, I came to realise that keeping a double life in terms of blog sites, was unhealthy for me, and likely something that caused distress to many who are in my face-to-face world.

As a result of this, I have deleted all but three posts at Through a Naturist Lens, since all of those posts and more are already posted here. These posts are less censored in terms of images, perhaps more honest because of that. I am leaving the other site in place because of my books which contain a link to that site. The posts remaining there explain why I am a naturist and that is about it.

I will continue to lead a double life in the world on this side of the computer screen, much like my friend Holly, because of family and community. Not many are truly comfortable in having to deal with a naked, older male. Now if I was a younger, female person such as Holly, I would hazard a guess that fewer would be challenged in seeing me nude.

There’s Darkness in the Sunshine

There's Darkness in the Sunshine

There’s Darkness in the Sunshine

There’s Darkness in the Sunshine – Okay, so how does that work? I am hoping the image helps with the idea. Basically, we get caught up in the light, in the sunshine whenever it puts in an appearance, that we forget that there is a dark shadow hanging around just out of our attention. In the image, there is sunshine and warmth, plenty warm enough to go outside without the need for clothing. Yet, here I am, still inside, in the shadows.

I am back in a location I have spent the past four winters, the same artist’s studio just three short blocks from the Caribbean Sea on the Mayan Riviera; just a kilometre away from a naturist friendly beach by the Desires Pearl Resort. Ten days into this fifth year, it all seems to be changing on me. Yet, little has really changed. I am left to accept the fact that I am the one changing. But of course, that is only part of the story.

What has basically changed is the feeling of permission that I get from myself and my significant other. What lays behind this shifting of permissions is perhaps simply the fact that we are both getting older. I don’t want to disturb her, and she doesn’t want to disturb the world around us. We are both feeling vulnerable in our own unique ways. The slightest sound that might indicate that another person just might somehow look in and see me nude, has my wife on edge. Her on edge has me rush to cover up so that she can have a better sense of safety. Though our landlady has officially accepted my nudity and given her permission a number of times over the past years, the assumption that she has only done so under the duress of having to find someone else to live here. I hear about how our landlady is extremely uncomfortable with my nudity whenever she stumbles upon it on rare occasions. As a result, this safe container that is our private part of the property has ceased to be safe for either of us.

Adding to the dilemma is that the landlady wants to open a business in the front part of her house and use the studio as part of her own living quarters next year. We’ve been given notice that the place won’t be on the market next winter for us to rent. The business has already begun to operate following the landlady’s departure from her former place of employment. So, we have begun looking at alternatives for next winter and soon found two very good choices, two very different choices. I found one that we had both looked at for the past two years, a place we were familiar with as friends had stayed on the property. She found a different property. One has privacy spaces outdoors, the other doesn’t. As we debate the pros and cons of both places it appears that the higher cost for her choice doesn’t seem to matter as it is the “best” choice.

So why do I concede so quickly? The truth is that if she is uncomfortable, on edge, worried or any other descriptor that holds a negative weight, the chances of enjoying winters in Mexico becomes quickly reduced to a very low number. Choices. Choices have consequences. Do I settle for a choice that leaves me in the shadows, on the fringes of depression, or do I choose to lose even more?