Midlife as a Gift of Renewal – Welcome to Naturism

In a pensive state of mind.

Today’s post features Lanie, a professional model from the U.K. who has been gracious enough to allow me to bring her photos here. Today’s topic doesn’t speak about her life or state-of-being, but her photos do evoke some of the mystery and depth of humanity that is the theme of today’s post.

Though I experienced naturism first as a teenager, it never became anything but a rare escape from life’s complexities for the next few decades. Then midlife came and shook up the world as I knew it. I didn’t think so then, but now upon looking back, I’m grateful for this pivotal part of my history. James Hollis writes in his book, The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife:

“Symptoms of midlife distress are in fact to be welcomed, for they represent not only and instinctually grounded self underneath the acquired personality but a powerful imperative for renewal.”

Vulnerable

It’s the renewal part that is the gift that comes with midlife. As Hollis notes, “the Middle Passage starts when we ask, “Who am I, apart from my history and the roles I have played?” Going through the middle passage isn’t all that comfortable as one is forced to either give up being owned by one’s history and roles, or to settle for watching and living reruns of one’s life like some pathetic soap opera. Whatever dreams one might have had, tend to shrivel up like a raisin in the sun – yes, that was intended. I used to be an English literature teacher in my past.

Naturism

For many who find themselves navigating through the middle passage, the route takes them to the world of naturism. Being out of one’s clothing has this magical effect of forcing a person to be fully aware and present in the moment. The sun’s rays, breezes, rain showers, and the lack of constrictions tell the body, and then the mind, that this moment is real. Naturism then nurtures the body and mind as one accepts being in the moment, much like mindful meditation tries to teach us. In the moment, the past loses it’s depressive or nostalgic hold on the psyche. One finds themselves in a “humble but dignified relationship to the universe.” And in the process, the renewal has each of us present ourselves with a new, improved identity.

Humble and dignified and authentically Lanie

I want to finish off with a final quote from the opening chapter of Hollis’ book, as well as with a thank you to Lanie for allowing me to feature her images here, images that speak to the idea of having a humble and dignified relationship to the universe.

“In our own culture there are no meaningful rites of passage into adulthood … we can only transmit twentieth century beliefs in materialism, hedonism and narcissism – with some computer skills thrown in. None of this provides salvation, connection to the earth and its great rhythms, meaning or depth to one’s journey.”

Perhaps the journey into naturism is one of the missing meaningful rights of passage into the second half of life.

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.

 

Lukas In His Naturist Sacred Space

Lukas at home in the early evening after a hard day’s work away from home.

Most of my friends who are naturists, spend as much time outdoors as they can and I am no exception. Like my friend Lukas in The Netherlands, there is a pull to be outdoors even as the temperature begins to drop, as long as there is still sunshine. The last hour of sunshine paints the world with a golden hue and warms the body as though it is going to store that sun energy to last through the night.

Lukas in the evening in the garden

So what is it about being nude outdoors for naturists, a significantly small number of human beings? There is no question that Lukas, and me are not clinging to the thinking and living patterns of most of human society.  In my opinion, what we are doing, simply by being authentically ourselves, is creating something of value for our fellow humans. I want to quote a Jungian analyst, who is another friend of mine, Daryl Sharp:

Whoever embarks on the personal path becomes to some extent estranged from collective values, but does not thereby lose those aspects of the psyche which are inherently collective. To atone for this “desertion,” the individual is obliged to create something of worth for the benefit of society.” – On Staying Awake p. 90

Lukas at the pond in his garden

So what are we creating as naturists as we “do our own thing” outside of the collective norms? In my opinion, we are creating sacred spaces. The spaces such as within our personal and private gardens, don’t have locked gates to keep out others. But it isn’t just the garden spaces, as more importantly, we become guides to lead the others who get lost in the world of ego that puts others and the environment in last place. People burn out and turn to those who radiate a genuine calmness, warmth, and general overall caring for the Earth and its inhabitants, humans included.

But of course, you can’t take someone into a sacred space who doesn’t first come to the door. One can’t go out and recruit others as then something else is triggered, something more religious than spiritual. It all happens at the individual level. It is the individual who creates something of worth for society.

In the Garden, Skyclad and Working

Hauling the cut branches to the back lane.

The past few days have been busy in our garden area, especially with the removal of a few bushes which have tried to take over the garden. If anyone ever asks if a Dogwood is good in a small garden, the answer I now have in response is “No.” The bush wants to take over the garden like some psycho dictator. Removing it called for a several stage approach since we waited so long to resolve this problem.

A mass of roots in one great big ball

The first stage was to cut the bush down in stages. Since our landfill wants all bushes and branches in bite-sized pieces, that was job number one. With the bush gone for most of the above ground section, it was time to dig around the roots to plop the roots out. Easily said, but not so easily done. But with grit, time, and determination the job got done. Then it was time to tackle the second Dogwood which was much easier as it wasn’t a very healthy bush.

Rest and relaxation on the back deck

By the end of the afternoon, all was done. It was time to relax on the deck and enjoy a cold drink [non-alcoholic as I was also cooking halibut]. With a good rest, it was time to pack up the camping trailer for eight days at Green Haven.

I leave home early Sunday morning in order to do a book-signing event in Regina, followed by a meal with my eldest grandson, then a short half-hour drive to the campground where I have a season’s pass. I plan on meeting up with Happy Bare and his spouse for two evenings and a day’s time together. All is well in my world.

Ami Marie, Another Friend on the NOOK

Another friend at the NOOK – Ami Marie

At the site called the NOOK, there are a continuing number of new members.  Though there are literally thousands of members, my friendship numbers are high at just under 300 people. Ami Marie is one of these numbers, a very recent friend. I don’t know much about her other than she is friendly and loves to model. Her husband takes a good number of her photos that she shares with us at the NOOK.

At home and welcoming us as visitors.

Ami Marie has agreed to be featured here from time to time, just like my other NOOK friends, Lukas, Melvin and Sandy, and a few others who show up here on occasion. Like others, it takes time to get to know a person well enough to speak of them in honest ways so that my words don’t misspeak. Perhaps, like me, you will look forward to getting to know Ami Marie better.

One thing I have learned over the years, is to never judge a book by its cover, or a person by their appearance. So, I move forward in each friendship giving each person a good level of acceptance from which to build upon.

Nude Friends on the NOOK and Elsewhere

I have been a member of the NOOK for a number of years and have developed some great friendships as a result. I will be meeting with one of these members, Happy Bare, at the beginning of June at my home naturist campgrounds, Green Haven.

I have been a member of other naturists sites but haven’t really connected with others in most of those sites with the exception of Freedom Fields, run by a couple I originally met on the NOOK, and the Naturist Community.

Some of my friends from the NOOK are regularly featured here in blog posts, friends such as Melvin and Sandy, and Lukas. Other NOOK friends have appeared in the second book of Naked Poetry. Of course, I do have naturist friends who I have come to know from the face-to-face world and other online venues such as Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has been an ongoing problem as they are as adverse to nudity as it is possible to be. Twitter on the other hand, seems to be the friendliest social media platform where naturists/nudists can build real friendships.

There is one important caveat to remember – the online world is not as transparent as the face-to-face world in spite of having people willing to appear vulnerable. The intention one has in posting an image is not often the message that a viewer hears. Images are powerful, more powerful than words. Each person viewing an image has a set of filters and associations that are triggered. As a result, building a friendship relationship with people online is problematic. If one is to develop a real friendship, it must stand the test of time with conversations that that go beyond the knee-jerk responses to images.

Too often, people go in search of some Magical Other which they project onto the images of a certain gender [man-man, man-woman, woman-man, woman-woman] without consideration of what the intent of the “other” is when it comes to online relationships. Many aren’t looking for hook-ups or soul-mates or friendships-with-benefits. Rather, they are simply searching for others with whom they can share thoughts, others whom they hope will accept them as “just” a friend.

The best one can do is to listen to the inner radar. Monitoring oneself is the best strategy. If one reacts with “heat” whether that heat be positive or negative, then one is not really reacting to a person, but with inner contents being activated, a complex. Falling in love online is almost always a disaster waiting to happen. There are exceptions, but those exceptions are likely due to an extended dialogue that is not fuelled by images or sexual talk. I do know a few couples who met online, felt a connection, then began the long process of “getting-to-know” the other person in as many areas as possible. One couple that I have met have been together for almost twenty years. It is possible, but not typical. More typical is that hearts are broken, trust is shattered, and one is left feeling abused and abandoned.

Happenings in the Life of a Nude Writer

Too early for nectar in the hummingbird feeder.

It’s May on the Canadian prairies and that means the weather shifts from cold to hot at a moment’s notice. Only a few days ago we had +32 Celsius with sunny skies and very brisk winds. That was followed by temperatures dropping to +3 Celsius as a low and then +8 as the high temperature with no sunshine and continuing winds. It is far from being naturist friendly. As a result, I am spending more time on my writing projects.

Since I had removed the original book three from the “Broken” series from Amazon and from my continuing sales through Chapters and Indigo,

Tea break while writing nude on the back deck.

I have begun the work on rewriting the book in a completely different format with a new cover planned so that it matches the other two volumes in the series. The photos in the book will be removed and the story will unfold as a story more than as a memoir. So far, I am now at 28,000 words with the likelihood of reaching 90,000 when all is said and done.

As well as writing, I have begun to plan and arrange for more book-signing events including an August long weekend jaunt to Winnipeg and three Chapters stores in that city. Of course I hope to have time to visit family in that city while there. Other events are being planned for Calgary and Edmonton with a return to Red Deer, Saskatoon, and Regina anticipated for the season wrap up in October. I should easily engage with more people and sell more books with the addition of extra book-signing events between now and then. Too bad I can’t sell my books while nude.