I must admit, although I absolutely love being a blogger, it is not without its challenges. Between email, social media and the Get Naked With Joy blog, each week I receive communication (comments, messages, and emails) from hundreds of people who live all over the world. Although some of the communication is unsolicited sexual comments and propositions, I also receive an overwhelming amount of encouragement and support.
Beyond the smaller questions people ask me (what does your tattoo represent, where did you grow up, are you married, etc.) people also ask me more profound questions. Of all the questions I am asked, the most common ones are:
“How did you begin this journey?”
“How can I be as confident as you are?”
“Have you always been comfortable being nude?”
Until recently I wasn’t sure how to answer these questions, but over the past month, I have been contemplating my response. I started this journey during a meeting with a photographer on January 1, 2018. As I previously mentioned, 2017 was one of the most difficult years of my life. When the new year was approaching, I decided to start a blog to honour the new direction my life has taken.
I let go of my old blog, which was a difficult decision because I love blogging and I was very attached to it. Letting go also meant letting almost a decade of my words, photos, and self-expression to be unpublished. It was a difficult decision, but my intuition told me that accepting all of the change I was experiencing meant that I needed a fresh start.
As I often do, I chose to start my new journey with a photo shoot. I contacted a photographer who has worked in the industry for over two decades. We set up a meeting for January 1st at my sister’s house. She suggested that I have the meeting with the photographer in her hot tub. If you live in a more conservative community (similar to the one I recently moved away from) this might seem like a strange place to host a first meeting, but Salt Spring is a very open-minded community. I had no idea what the photographer looked like, what his personality was like, or how old he was. I just knew that I loved his photos and that he had a very positive reputation.
When he arrived I passed him a towel and a glass of water, dropped stepped out of my own towel and stepped into the hot tub with my spritzer. He immediately stripped down and joined me with his camera. We talked for maybe an hour or so while he snapped random photos of me. I even took a few photos of him. It was a comfortable, liberating, and somehow healing experience for both of us. When you meet someone in the nude you have immediately stripped away any external barriers to authentic connection.
At some point, my sister joined us for a bit and then we left the heat of the hot tub and ventured into nature. It was refreshing. He asked me if he should put his clothes on for the shoot; I told him to do what made him feel most comfortable. For the first time in his career as a photographer, he attended a photo shoot fully nude. Both of us have a history of social nudity, so it was not threatening and we both felt at ease. At one point in the shoot, he mentioned that I seemed to be guarded even though he had stepped into a very vulnerable space with me. He was right, I was guarded and shut down on an emotional level. It wasn’t because of the nudity, or because we had just met, it was because I felt truly naked at an incredibly vulnerable time in my life.
The result of this experience was life-altering. I learned more about myself during that photo shoot than I could have by participating in years of talk therapy. New year’s day was the first shoot with this particular photographer (he has asked me to leave his name out of this post). Since then we have ventured into the wilderness with cameras three times. We have developed a deep friendship in a short amount of time. I imagine we will have many more photos shoots and rewilding experiences together. I have yet to see the photos from the 8 rolls of film he took of me, but the following are some of the digital images he captured.
The photo of a man on a tree is one that I took during his rewilding journey. He has given me permission to share it on my blog. The interesting thing is that I told this story to Roque, a friend who is also a photographer. Roque came to Salt Spring recently. He was inspired to go to the same tree with me. Roque had the phrase “get naked with Joy” in his mind and he did just that. Even though Roque had not been skinny dipping or participated in other nude activities, he was inspired and chose to tap into his primal being while naked in nature. You can read about Roque’s adventure in this post: Getting Naked With Joy
I hope you are having a beautiful weekend!
From my heart to yours,