Nude Freedom: Introductory Blog from Leaders of YNA Upstate NY
Guest Blog by: Steve & Susanne, leaders of YNA Upstate NY
Greetings YNA! I am excited to take this opportunity to introduce Susanne and I as leaders of the recently founded YNA Upstate New York Chapter. It’s difficult to express the sense of joy, privilege, and responsibility we feel about becoming a part of the YNA community and its awesome vision. So, for now I will share the story of how we came to be involved in naturism and YNA.
Let’s start with a little parable about elephant stakes. As the parable goes, when elephants in captivity are young, they are kept in place by a trainer who uses a wooden stake pounded into the ground, to which the elephant is tied. When the elephant is a baby the stake is strong enough to bind him. The pattern is never broken. Of course, over time the elephant grows to full stature and power. Amazingly, the full grown elephant remains bound with the same stake used since it was a baby. All the full grown elephant would have to do is walk away from the wooden stake and snap it off. Why doesn’t the elephant do it? Because, it’s not the body that is bound, it’s the mind.
Until recently our minds were bound with respect to fully accepting ourselves and others. The idea of naturism as an expression of acceptance never occurred to us. Running around naked? Heaven forbid! Our families, society and the Church have taught us poorly with regard to body values, modesty, and shame. Sadly, most of “churchianity” is misguided with respect to God’s most beautiful creation – the human body. Somehow, from Eden, “they were naked and unashamed,” and naked baptisms of the early church, the majority of modern Christendom couldn’t have grown more wimpy and stodgy when it comes to experiencing the naked human body.
So when did things begin to change for us? Well it started in Germany – Susanne is a native German by the way. We met and married in Germany and lived there for a number of years in the 80’s and 90’s. I was always somewhat shocked about nudity in European life – I never experienced it growing up in the States. There I first saw nudity; at the beach, on billboards, and on prime time T.V. This made for occasional lively discussions between Susanne and I, or with friends. Seeing nudity so openly made me curious and I would always be the one to raise the topic. Susanne was rather ambivalent about nudity – she had occasionally practiced it on the beach, or as mixed gender showering with her volleyball club. However, our mild interest in nudity gave way to churchy taboos as we became more involved in church. Susanne thought about her few nude experiences as a thing of the past, and eventually I stopped talking about it as well.
Years later, after moving to the States, we faced our elephant stakes again. This time it was more serious than discussions about European nudity. It was about relationships. There were growing stresses in our marriage and business. I was becoming a depressed and angry person. At the same time we began realizing Susanne had some pretty serious body image issues stemming from puberty. This was the perfect storm in terms of washing out romance. I was forced to rethink my business priorities. I had forgotten life isn’t ultimately about business, or things, or money, or success. It’s really about people, about loving them. Without this love, my life was becoming unbearable, and I was becoming unbearable – even to my family. Susanne on the other hand, had to confront the negative body images from her adolescence that were seriously hindering our physical relationship, and causing me a huge amount of frustration in addition to the business tension I was under.
In the midst of the emotional cauldron we were in, I began to have this “strange” inner desire to get naked – to just let go, be free, to be accepting and accepted. Susanne did not share this, and I could not explain it. I was convinced it came from “the dark side” and I resisted it for a long time. I did not understand it was really about elephant stakes. Paradoxically, I would seek out secluded streams and ponds, hoping to take a naked plunge – but I could not overcome my elephant stakes. I couldn’t get naked, especially if other people were around! My conscience would not let me, no matter how much the frustration and anger built up within me.
Finally, after several of the worst business weeks in my life – the simplest things just seemed to be falling apart – I could bear it no longer. One day, I headed for a pond, and on the way I thought to myself, “I hope there will be someone skinny dipping – then I will have the courage to join them.“ Like an unexpected blessing, when I arrived there was actually a middle age couple swimming naked and free! I had never seen anyone skinny dipping there before. That was the encouragement I needed. The inner turmoil boiled over, I peeled off my clothes shedding years of tension, frustration, anger, and depression. I plunged in the water, and indeed I was being baptized anew. My heart and spirit compelled me to take that plunge, even though my mind was still “convinced” that it was against my faith. In hindsight, I believe the Lord pushed me to that day, that pond, those fellow skinny dippers. I do not wish to think of where I would be now had that not happened.
After taking the plunge I told Susanne every detail about my experience, and I asked her to share it with me – I knew the experience would never be complete without the love of my life enjoying it with me. Indeed I could not imagine continuing in it without her. I would have nothing coming between us, even this liberation. After a lot of very patient discussion, and seeing significant changes in me, she finally agreed to give it a try. We went to secluded locations, first alone, then with other naturists present. Her fears gave way to the sheer joy of the experiences, and now the rest is history, as they say.
After experiencing the freedom of naturism, and knowing in our hearts it was right for us, we did a lot of mental debunking to rid ourselves of all remaining elephant stakes. Because we now understand that it’s biblically sound and spiritually up-building, the experience is even more joyful. We are growing closer to each other, to God and to our fellow man. Since taking the plunge Susanne and I have worked through many body issues and our relationship has grown. Furthermore, the negative attitudes developed through formerly misguided business priorities, have melted away and I am able to enjoy life again free of anger, frustration, and depression.
After all of these wonderful experiences, we are simply excited to give back by becoming a part of YNA in order to help young people get rid of their elephant stakes and learn to accept themselves, and others. Why wait as long as we did? Jesus said, the greatest command is love God with all your heart, and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. Isn’t that what God meant back in Eden in the first place?
Hey everyone, it really is “all about the love,” and Felicity and Jordan, thanks for your vision and dedication!
About the Author (Author Profile)I'm Felicity, author of Felicity's Blog and co-founder of Young Naturists America. I write about nudism and naturism in today's world along with issues like top-freedom and body acceptance, and various naked topics. Enjoy, and leave a comment when you've got something to say! :)
This is an awesome blog, especially the Elephant Stakes :)
It so ties in with this "His disciples say to him: "On what day wilt thou appear to us, and what day shall we see thee?" Jesus says: "When you strip yourselves without being ashamed, when you take off your clothes and lay them at your feet like little children and trample on them! Then [you will become] children of Him who is living, and you will have no more fear." - Gospel of Thomas. This should be read, even by non-believers. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas/
This is not just about being naked in a physical sense but being naked and free in your mind, and how many of us really are?
Thanks to @FelicityJones for sharing this :)
Sounds like an amazing experience. It is awesome that you and Susanne was able to try skinny dipping. I remember the first time that I did it, there are certainly no words to describe it. I know I had struggled with the religion aspect too, but I do believe God meant for us to be that way.
Nudism has many positive affects on people, I am glad you decided to also give back through the YNA.
Yes, it was truly an amazing experence, and a struggle at the same time. It sounds like Oregon is an amazing place with lots of possibilities for skinny dipping and naturism as well. One or our hopes is to get out west, someday, and it is very exciting that you have YNA in motion in Oregon!