The Secret Life of a Naturist

Fabien Barabé

Friends. Thanks to the world of social media, I continue to have friends during this time of social isolation thanks to a global pandemic. These people who have become my friends are real people. Some of them I have met in real life, something that has confirmed what I already knew. Friendships online that are based on shared interests are more than likely to remain friends when the face-to-face opportunity arises.

René Reinvented bottom left side

A few years ago, I met a fellow Canadian, Fabien Barabé, on Twitter, an artist from Nova Scotia. Over time, I began to connect with him as a friend. That was based on a shared nationality to begin with, and deepened with our interests in the Arts [painting, drawing, writing, etc.]. I write, he sketches, draws, paints and illustrates. It was natural that as we got to know each other better, we would combine our talents. I commissioned Fabien to design a cover for a speculative novel called René Reinvented.

Fabien & his covers
Fabien in his studio

Following that, I have worked with Fabien with the design of covers of two more books, short story anthologies. I have a story in the first book, Fabien has a story in the second book. Fabien was the illustrator who brought those books to life with captivating covers.

The future of our friendship? It will be a long friendship and collaborative from time to time. This is one of the incredible gifts that are there waiting for all of us if we invest ourselves in our online presence. The more one is similar online with one’s off-line reality, the more authentic a friendship becomes.

Socksoff Is Back!

Emma is back! Thank the gods and goddesses.

As many of my readers may be aware, Emma James, best known as @Socksoff1 on Twitter, had her account suspended for more than a month. After a number of appeals and testimonials to Twitter about having her reinstated, today she had her account of eight years, reinstated. Why was she given a suspension? In my opinion, it is pointless to even guess. All that needs to happen is for some unhappy troll or stalker to report an account. At that point, some algorithm spits out a suspension based on the nature of the complaint. Then, it is up to the targeted account to do the work of appealing. With luck, an actual person may be able to review the suspension. In the case of Twitter and most social media, one is guilty until proven innocent.

Twitter is unlike most social media platforms in that nudity is not grounds for suspension. It is by far, the most tolerant of the big media platforms. There are small platforms and web-groups that more liberal, but they don’t have the reach that Twitter has. When the objective is to normalise nudity in a gymnophobic world, reach is important. Social media accounts such as both Emma and I have on Twitter, serve a number of other purposes besides trying to normalise nudity. Both of us have business interests included. Both of us have built a sizeable number of relationships, something that has become increasingly difficult for anyone who is inclined to spend time during our days and nights while nude with the virtual sense that we are doing so in a virtual social context.

Covid19 has taught us the necessity of having a virtual network of friends as we struggle individually with lockdowns, staying safely in place, and very limited social contact in our day-to-day lives. Thankfully, Emma had an alternate account which allowed many of her followers and friends to continue to be engaged with her, and her with us. I have the same backup in place. That back up account isn’t gymno-centric. And I don’t have the same number of followers in place. It exists simply so that the core of my followers can continue to interact with me, and I with them. The same is true for Emma as her alternate account has less than half of the followers found at @Socksoff1.

Now, with that said, I have one additional item on today’s post agenda. I am searching for a few Beta Readers for my current novel which has a temporary title, Aliens Among Us. This is the story of Azulians coming to the planet Earth on assignment to somehow change the contemporary climate that is headed towards a self-extinction event. If you would consider reading the story in its current state, I would be grateful. A beta reader is not an editor. A beta reader is usually a test reader, a person who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. I will take what my beta readers have to say about the book into serious consideration as I then begin the process of editing the story. Thanks in advance to any and all who “volunteer.”

Dreaming of Free-Hiking in Late Winter

Waiting for free-hiking weather

It’s a sunny day and it is somewhat warm at -6 Celsius. It was a perfect time to go for a walk in the countryside before the roads turn muddy. Naturally, I wore light winter wear for the hike. Walking through the edges of town to a point just three kilometres distant on a somewhat busy country road is not a naturist activity. Should I have dared such a feat, it would have been purely exhibitionist. And that isn’t something that I am interested in trying out. I prefer to save my naturist hiking for the countryside where there is very, very little chance of being seen. Today, I saved my outdoor nude time for my backyard once I was done.

One of my readers, Ken Sunwalker recently wrote to me:

I’ve freehiked for nearly 20 years and love it! I help lead a freehiking group in Arizona with my wife. Recently I started a blog about freehiking to share my thoughts, videos, and photos, and those of others, at: https://hikingfree139095748.wordpress.com.”

I have been aware of Ken’s blog site for a number of years and personally know two naturists who have taken part in some of these free-hiking adventures with Ken. For Canadians [well most Canadians] heading to the USA to do some free-hiking is more of a dreaming activity during this time of a Covid19 pandemic that has closed the border between our two countries. Regardless, where there is a will and a disregard for regulations, there will be a way to make it to Ken’s place and join him and his crew.

However, for me, it is all about waiting for warm weather, sunny skies, and the peaceful prairie hills not too distant from my home. Happy hiking regardless of your state of dress.

Getting Nude and Looking Beneath the Skin

It’s Sunday morning and the weather is pleasant with a bit of sunshine, a breeze of 14km/h, and a temperature of -9. For the first time in a month, I felt like going outside for another photo which I bring to you here. Obviously, I could have taken a few extra moments to have my hair tidy, but it just didn’t seem all that important. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if one lets one’s hair down and allows for a less-than-perfect presentation. After all, who really cares? It’s not like I need to make a good impression as far as my appearance is concerned. I am not looking to capture someone’s attention in order to perhaps have a relationship. I mean, who would ever be interested in a 71 year old man living in a northern climate, especially one who is introverted and not the most attentive to social conventions?

My photos are a record, a personal record that portrays my presence on the planet without camouflage. Through the process of taking these photos on a regular basis, I am confronted with the reality of my body. Over time, that reality becomes accepted. There is no way for me to be taller, younger, dark-haired, or more attractive – whatever that might mean. This is who I am and I better get used to it. There are things that I have learned in the process. Eating properly and getting some exercise are first on the list. This is the only body I have, so I may as well take care of it so that I can enjoy to best degree possible, the years that remain to me.

There is one benefit that comes with living during a pandemic for either an extrovert or an introvert – time alone. Continuing on with my look at Who Am I, Really? which I began in the last post, I found: “… being alone. Interesting things happen to me when I’m by myself. Or rather they happen in me; I just listen. Things also happen in me when I’m with other people, only I don’t hear them as well because of the noise.” [Daryl Sharp, Who Am I Really, p. 16]

So, what happens within oneself when one just listens? The first thought that comes to mind, born out of years of experience with meditation is monkey mind. The chatter is enough to drive one crazy until one learns to stop listening to the chatter of one’s mind that is trying to distract the ego from hearing from one’s depths. Whoever one is, it is there in the depths, buried under every conceivable mask, mirror, and distraction.

Beneath all the noise, I catch glimpses of a Robert that isn’t a retired educator or a quasi-shaman elder. That Robert is more of a presence than a being … ageless. Okay, so how does this help me or you know who we really are? Honestly? Perhaps it can only tell us what we aren’t. I was a teacher in a public school system. I am not that person anymore – or I should say that I am no longer defined and hidden behind that persona, that role. The same goes for you. Each of the roles, each of the persona that we discover, experience and let go teach us something about our nature, positive or negative.

I want to return to something else that Daryl Sharp wrote: “… the general understanding of personality is too superficial. What you see is not all you get. What you see is persona. What’s behind that – our shadow, things about ourselves we don’t know or wouldn’t show to others even if we did – is anybody’s guess.” [p.27]

When you think about it, getting nude is only the beginning. Daring to look deeper without self-serving filters to learn that we are a complex, swirling collection of good and evil, of saint and sinner – that is the ego-deflating risk that needs to be taken of we are ever to really know oneself.

Body Acceptance

One of the hardest things to do is to look at ourselves and accept what we see. There is a protective lens that is activated when we look in the mirror. For most of us, there is only so much truth that can be processed at one time. Even when we stand naked in front of the mirror, the lens kicks in. For whatever reason, we want to have a positive experience of what we see, a reason which then results in “not-seeing” who is really staring back at us. Emma’s image, with the tinted glasses, is perfect for illustrating the idea of seeing ourselves through a filter and accepting what we see in the mirror.

In most of my books, I always include the following quote from James Hollis, a Jungian analyst and author: “whatever reality may be, it will to some extent be shaped by the lens through which we see it”. – James Hollis, Jungian Analyst, The Middle Passage, 1993. The lens we use is one that is individually constructed by ourselves in response to life. So many little micro events, and more significant events have us respond in ways that subtly shift our perception of the world around us, as well as our own selves. No one escapes growing up and growing older without creating a unique lens which determines how we see ourselves, others and the world around us.

It takes a midlife crisis, more often than not, to begin questioning everything, especially the stranger that is looking back at us in the mirror. There is a small book by Daryl Sharp, a Canadian Jungian analyst who was an old friend of mine who passed not so long ago [an indicator that I, too, and getting old] called “Who Am I, Really?” that comes to mind as I write this post. In the book, Sharp writes:

“You see, we hate what we are, we reject what we need. In frustration, we lash out at those we love. Behind all that, the very root of it all, is that we don’t know how to deal with the opposites.”

Who Am I, Really? Daryl Sharp, p.10

So many of us don’t like what and who we see. As a result, we invest in all sorts of disguises and filters to hide the truth. Clothing, makeup, plastic surgery, drugs, booze, extreme exercise regimes, legal and illegal drugs are used to excess in hopes that we can make the image in the mirror transform into a better version. We see a stranger in the mirror and we fear strangers. If we are lucky, we end up in a crisis where we are forced to do something different, to rethink and re-see who we are.

Naturism was for me, the response when a crisis whacked me over the head. I retreated into a wooded area, slipped out of my clothing and cried. That was more than fifty years ago. Since then, I found escape from the wounds that continued to come my way by retreating from the sources of wounding to embrace the healing of naturism, especially with the presence of warm sunlight. Shedding my clothing allowed me to finally find peace, first with my body and eventually with the “me” the “I” that I was discovering. I still don’t fully know who I am though I have a good idea. I have become more or less, at peace with myself. And naturism was a significant part of that.

Body acceptance is vital. Aging teaches us so much. I look forward to your comments.

Naked Skeletons in the Closet

I sometimes find myself looking into one or more of our closets with absolutely no thought of what I am hoping to find. Obviously, I won’t be finding any skeletons in the closet. Well, not literal skeletons. However, I usually find items that have been abandoned for years. When I opened this closet door, my eyes were drawn to a chess game in a tattered box that has sat unused for a few years. I stared at the box and somehow didn’t take in anything else that may have been sitting on the same shelf. I have played chess using this set, with almost every member of my family with the exception of the two youngest grandchildren. Now, I play online chess. The memories of games won and lost, and games thrown so that beginning chess players get the occasional taste of victory, flit through my head, pleasant memories.

But not everything we bury in our closets give rise to pleasant memories. We do bury psychological skeletons in our closets, those things that wait to be purged. Yet, how often do we find ourselves resisting opening the door to the closet. There are ghosts of the past, those things that lurk, waiting to again inflict trauma on the psyche. We see the closet door and dread opening it. And if we dare open it, it is with a thin veneer of fear that has us rush to grasp whatever it is that we need from the closet.

Much to our discomfort, the good stuff is stored in the same closet as those dark and dangerous things that haunt us when we are sleeping. Too often, we refuse to open the closet door, even to get to the good stuff. We give in to our fear of the dark shadows lurking in the closet. We are faced with a choice, go without the good stuff, or risk another nerve-shattering encounter with the shades and skeletons.

This is what psychotherapy is all about, taking those risks. The difference between self-psychotherapy and other therapies is the presence of a guide. It is so much easier to open the closet door when we know that there is someone beside us, someone who has done battles against these very demons and has emerged whole.

If you find yourself, hesitating and growing more and more lifeless, less and less animated, consider reaching out.

Nudity and Dreams

January 2012 in Thailand

I think this will be the last of the rescued posts that I will be adding to this blog site. This post brings three posts together from January 24th, 25th and 26th, 2012 when I was in Thailand for a winter break between Chinese university terms. I have always had nudity in dreams. I have recorded dreams in dream journals for years, beginning in the 1990s. For some reason, I stopped recording my dreams about five years ago. My life has calmed enough that I have no sense of urgency to do something for self-psychology. That said, dream work is vital and I encourage any and all to write down these night-time stories. You’ll never know when doing this will unconsciously teach your subconscious something of value. Hopefully, this record will give you something of value.

As the image suggests, this post will again return to the theme of dreams and what they portend. My dreaming life has taken on an unusually active phase and I have been able to remember enough of the dreams to record them in my journal.  I will present the latest dream later in this post but before I do, I want talk a bit about dreams, at least as far as I understand them.

The one thing I have learned over the years is the fact that the dreams are rarely (in my case, never) about reality. Though the characters that show up in my dreams are faces of real people from my life, in the context of the dreams, they are representative of aspects of myself, rather than literally being about these people. For example, if my father was to appear in a dream, he more often than not is representative of a father-complex, sometimes with a negative face, sometimes with a positive face.

Yet there are times when the people in the dreams are there to help me remember, especially in terms of my “relationship” with them at a particular point in life.  People are pointing to something within me, pointing out the journey’s path and sometimes the pitfalls awaiting . . .  As Daryl Sharp has mentioned in more than one of his books, these people are like  people in a boarding house with the ego as landlord. Complexes, archetypal images, intuition and more fill the space of the dreams.

I had been delaying getting out of bed because it was so early and I couldn’t really remember the dreams that I had been having, some dreams about nakedness, but eventually after the third time I decided that I might as well get up since trying to sleep was getting me no where but more and more frustrated. As soon as that decision was made and I got out of bed, a few more sharp images from the dreaming came to mind:

. . . I am frustrated because I can’t find any of my clothes as I know when it is appropriate to wear clothing and when it isn’t . . . I know that nudity in dreams is somewhat normal but I feel that this nudity is not as comfortable . . .  strange that I know I am dreaming with this thought . . . With this thought weighing me down, I continue the search for some of my clothing though I don’t know where to find them so I am feeling frustrated. . .

. . .  I have returned to the dream and now others are to be seen . . . Now I am even more uncomfortable with the nudity, with my nudity . . . everyone knows everything about me, can see me and judge me . . . and then I notice that they are nude as well . . . I see S with a little girl, her daughter K, who is about four, coming out of M’s room . . . I go into the room fearful of being humiliated and see that she is also naked, lying on a cot beside our bed, not in our bed . . . I walk over to her and kiss her on the mouth and she smiles at me . . .

Nudity, not about nudity, but about the disclosures I am going to be making to the world around me, to the people who know me but don’t know really that much about me. Disclosing my issues of the past leaves me vulnerable as if I was indeed was “naked,” and ready to be judged by the world who sees my nudity as indecent exposure. But there is enough “support” by others in the dream that lets me know that we are all vulnerable, that we all need to risk vulnerability in order to collectively heal.

Twins – The Courage to Tell it Like it is

Chief cook & bottle washer

It’s a strange kind of day. Weekends are strange when one is retired, especially in this time of a pandemic. There is that mental expectation that the weekend should mean something. However, one day looks the same as the next for the most part. With the extreme cold weather still hanging in here on the Canadian prairies, I tend to get a bit listless as though I am needing to go and do something. I’m not the only one in our house of two inhabitants. If anything, she is more restless than I am. She is the quintessential “Energize Bunny” according to everyone who knows her. It just so happened that while I was on a phone call, she decided to go outside for a tiny walk.

The results of that decision ended up being painful. She fell and broke a bone just below the wrist of her dominant hand. Now, I am having my day filled with other tasks. For the foreseeable future, I will be adding to me daily repertoire including the cooking. Prior to this “event” I was her sous-chef. Needless to say, she is not too happy with this turn of events. It will make for a new round of testing boundaries, especially when independence is valued. With that said, I am turning once again to December 2011 to bring back the Twins – Ego and Sky Clad.

~

Things have been heating up in a big way since coming to Thailand, and not just in terms of air temperature which, indeed, is a fact, a good fact. The heat has to do with ongoing issues that have surfaced because of the removal of an excuse to deny the reality of the past. It seems that the human brain doesn’t really forget. What gets buried beneath layer and layer of denial or swallowed in black holes of memory loss eventually makes its way to the surface if prodded enough.

Ego: Holy shit! I must be going insane! I’ve had it! Get me off this roller coaster!

Sky Clad: Take a deep breath. Again. There, that helps, doesn’t it?

Ego: Okay, I have to admit it does. I just have to say the business about taking a time out that was mentioned the last time we met hasn’t really been a time out at all. If anything, it seemed like I jumped head first into quicksand.

Sky Clad: Care to talk about it?

Ego: Where the fuck do I start? You know, I seem to say “fuck” a lot lately.

Sky Clad: Maybe that’s a good place to start. What’s that all about?

Ego:  I don’t know; it just seemed to come out of nowhere, like all the shit that has been emerging while I am writing in my journal or when I try to sleep.

Sky Clad: Exactly! The swearing and the emerging memories are tied together. I think you might remember about learning to repress “swearing” as a teenager.

Ego: You know? You’re right!  Just hold on a sec . . . yes here it is . . . 

“I left the cell late, when Dad was finally satisfied that I had learned my lesson. He told me he would be checking my handwriting in all of my books to make sure that I wasn’t an embarrassment to the family name. I have to admit that I was furious, and that I was burning with shame inside. As I walked from the police station towards home, I stopped and went behind an old garage and began swearing. I made sure that I was hidden and that my voice couldn’t be heard. I knew that if Dad heard me swearing I would be physically regretting it for a long time. But, in spite of my fear, I swore over and over again just beneath the volume level of a whisper. And I knew, that I would have to go to confession for dishonouring, disobeying my father.”

Personal Journal – Age of self 14

Sky Clad: And now that the dam has broken, you don’t have to hide behind a shed, whispering swear words. Now, as you’re learning, it’s okay to express your hurt, anger and even rage. Of course, that doesn’t give permission to hurt another person.

Ego: I think I just got sidetracked, I wasn’t intending to talk about swearing, but of the more important stuff that is emerging.

Sky Clad: Whoa! It’s all important. Realizing that you have “permission” to feel is critically important. Denying your feelings, your pain, your anger, your sense of being betrayed . . . it’s all wrapped up together with the “acts” of abuse that led to the need to “fly above,” to escape the reality of what was done to your body, mind and soul. This is an important part of healing. 

Ego: But this is as boring as hell for anyone reading this. They want the “juicy details.” 

Sky Clad: <shaking his head> Being transparent isn’t the same as disclosing all the details. Being transparent is about uncovering and freeing the psyche. There is a difference, as you know, between flashing one’s genitals and being naturally nude. It’s all about intention. Sometimes when you’re nude, the genitals aren’t even seen. It’s the person, the spirit, not the package that is what it means to be “skyclad.”

Ego: Okay. I need to rest again and think about this. I don’t have my typical energy at this point. I get tired so fast.

Sky Clad: You’re working hard and the rest is important. Go and meditate in the sunshine. I’ll be here when you are ready to talk some more.

On Being Naked

As I write up today’s post, like every other time, I am naked. For the most part, that is my normal state. A short while ago, I went for a walk with my wife around town. It was sunny, breezy and -29 Celsius. The breeze made it feel like it was -41 Celsius. My wife is pictured in her outfit for our walk around the town. Obviously, I was dressed in a similar outfit. The idea is to get some fresh air and exercise, not to expose the body to undo stress and risk freezing the anatomy.

Earlier, we both exercised in the basement where we have an elliptical walking machine and a Nordic Trak ski machine. I typically use the ski machine. Twenty minutes of effort leaves me coated in a sheen of sweat, even though I don’t wear an exercise outfit. The basement is kept a comfortable +12 to +15 Celsius for exercising. Upstairs on the main level, the temperature is kept at 19 Celsius, just perfect for my writing life.

As for my writing life, I am now on Chapter 16 with more than 38,000 words written. The Romance in a Nudist Colony anthology which I have just published for editors Ted Bun and Will Forest, has already sold fifteen paperback copies and pre-sold twenty-seven eBooks books. The eBook gets released on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. There are 18 short stories on being naked and being in love. But enough of that for now.

I am once again returning to an older post that I somehow managed to rescue, from January 2012. For several years, I have been receiving posts from DailyOM, motivational pieces. I just checked with their archives and find that the original post, Being Naked, which I drew from nine years ago is still live.

~

January 19, 2012
As the Day You Were Born
Being Naked

There is a freedom in being naked that few enjoy because we have been learned to be embarrassed.

For most of us, it is probably difficult to remember the last time we were comfortably naked for a period of time longer than 20 minutes or so. Many of us are only naked for the length of time it takes us to shower or bathe. We quickly dry off and put our clothes or pajamas on, without taking even a moment to enjoy the feeling of the air against our bare skin. Most of us learned that this was the way to do things from a young age, and we may not have been exposed to another way of thinking, but many cultures regard nudity as completely acceptable, even in somewhat public settings. If you have ever had the good fortune to assimilate yourself to this way of doing things, you may have found the experience liberating enough to allow it to influence the rest of your life.

Perhaps you swam topless in Tahiti or took a sauna in Sweden or Finland. In many American cities, you can find the experience of unselfconscious nudity in a Russian or Korean spa. You may have noticed the lack of vanity in people who are comfortable with their naked bodies. Old ladies and young girls sit side by side, seemingly without concern for how they appear. We see that it is not necessary to hide our imperfections; from cellulite to wrinkles, all is accepted with equilibrium. We can see the beauty and naturalness of our different bodies, accepting ourselves as just right, just as we are. Being naked in front of children can be discussed with your spouse and a plan developed for your family. Children have their way of letting you know when they are ready for a clothes-only family.

If this sounds appealing, you might try carving out some time in your day in which you let yourself be naked. You could delay dressing for 10 minutes after your shower, gradually increasing the time to 20 minutes or half an hour. You might also want to try sleeping naked, a sensual delight that is especially wonderful in hot summer months. If you have a private garden, a naked sunbath might be just the thing. Whatever your choice, finding time to be as naked as the day you were born can awaken feelings of contentment, freedom, and self-love.

I don’t want to add any more words than these. I don’t take any credit and hope that these words have value for you.

Nude and Writing in a Polar Vortex

Life in a deep freeze continues here on the Canadian prairies. As usual, I resort to soaking in as many of the sun’s rays as I can during the day. It’s a thing with me. If I can’t be outside, I bring as much as I can of the outer world into my space as I can. Sunshine coming through the windows is free, and it is warming. Luckily, my favourite winter writing spot has a large picture window which allows light to flood in to warm the air even though it is -36 Celsius outside with a feels-like temperature of -46C. As far as my writing is going, the story is now 35,000 words long. It’s going to be my longest work to date just to tell this opening story. There is no question that another book or two will be needed to complete the tale – or even more than that. With that said, here is a peak at a segment from Chapter 13. Just a side note: Rita is an indigenous human while the other characters in the segment are Azulians, aliens from a very distant planet who look like humans.

~

Rita travelled with Dev to La Ronge for the August long weekend. It was the third time she had made this trip as they had also been to the cabin for the May long weekend and Canada Day. She had also gone to Sophie’s place in the city of Prince Albert several times for Sophie’s spontaneous parties. The stays at the cabin were always with a much smaller group with just Ashley, Madison, Sophie, Jorey, Dev, and two men who never went to Sophie’s house in Prince Albert, Camsell and Huntley.

Rita noticed that the group was close, very close. It was obvious that they had a history, one that didn’t fit the stories being told when other people were in the picture. She didn’t pry as she didn’t want to find herself outside of the circle. She realised that she could have been mistaken about Madison, Jorey and Ashley, that it might simply be their personalities that neatly fit in with Dev and Sophie who had a relationship as friends dating back years. And try as she might, she never did find out much about the two men.

The cabin belonged to Sophie. It was predictably large, but nowhere near as large as the mansion back in the city. Though Sophie was European, she didn’t push her preference for nudity when swimming in the lake during the daytime. However, night-time skinny dipping was the norm when weather permitted. Otherwise, the basement level with its hot tub and sauna was their clothing-free zone.

“You’re adapting well to being nude,” Sophie remarked. “I was surprised at how well you are handling it.”

“Skinny dipping is not just a European thing,” Rita replied. “The women in my home community have no issue with being naked by the river or the lake, when the men are not around. Of course, nudity indoors is not a thing.”

The talk around nudity was rare, and only initiated by Sophie when it did happen. Realising that, Rita then reconsidered her thoughts of the whole group having a long history together. Most of the time, the conversation focused on the political scene or the growing social dissatisfaction that had been responsible for so many protests and conspiracy theories. There was even a conspiracy that blamed the current problems on aliens from outer space.

“No one takes them seriously,” Ashley said, with a laugh. “Those are the people who wear aluminum foil on their heads to prevent aliens or foreign technology from tampering with their thoughts.”