Friday, August 30, 2013

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES

 
     Since several people were offended by my last blog, I wanted to apologize to those "offendees" if my remarks felt insulting.
     On the other hand, any conflict is an opportunity for growth, or at least for humor and so I encourage those offended to muster up their courage and come talk to me.  I try to be sensitive, but like the offended, I too, often come up short and make mistakes.
     We live in a system, both our home/work environment and our world that is crying out for help and solutions to thorny, complex and daunting problems.  The opportunity here is to rise up (at least a little) from our ego perspective and see how any changes that we might be able to make within ourselves can be helpful to the growth of the whole.
     So, I say to those who may have felt challenged by my remarks, bring it on.  Let's see how we can help each other improve, so that the next time, when there is an inadvertent offense, we will be able to use it as an opportunity to achieve greater awareness and hopefully, laugh at ourselves.
     Several years ago, Rochelle and I were apart of a group that produced a regular Sunday morning gathering.  When we had our weekly meetings to organize the upcoming event, we made it a policy to deal with any conflicts that may have arisen during the week, especially interpersonal and intrapersonal ones.  We had a motto: "Let the need lead."
    All too often, human beings resort to blame and self-judgement when mistakes are made and interpersonal communication breaks down and turns to misunderstanding and hostility. So, to help us manage these altercations, we developed a 4 part set of principles:

  • Be willing to be honest.
  • Be willing to express your needs
  • Be willing to get off your position
  • Be willing take responsibility for your own feelings (and not blame anyone else--more on those principles in future blogs)

      These 4 tools have served us very well. Each one takes understanding and practice, but they really work. So, if you are one of the people who felt "judged" by me, come let's see where we were each coming from that led to our less-than-ideal behavior.
     As the Urantia Book says,   "You cannot truly love your fellows by a mere act of the will. Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of your neighbor’s motives and sentiments."
     So let us seek to understand one another, and grow our "clothing optional" community into one that not only makes it safe to bare our bodies, but also, safe and important enough to bare our souls.

Think on't


Andy Rumi

Saturday, August 17, 2013

JUXTAPOSITION PAR EXCELLENCE!

     
     After spending the last 4 weeks at my clothing optional "paradise," I'm ready to report on my findings...or at least my impressions.
     I was sitting in the hot tub with a few other naked people several nights ago, 2 of which were athletes--a young woman getting ready for her body-building show and a young man who was a mixed boxer or whatever they call those people who employ their hands, feet, head, elbows and genitals to beat the shit out of their opponent--and an older plus size lady.
     There it was--the juxtaposition. When they all got out of the tub, I saw the extremes of the human physical condition. But here's the rub (pun intended), they were all very gracious, friendly and affable.  So, if I put judgment aside, I was sitting in the midst of an all-together (also pun intended) fine group of human beings.

     My community (fast becoming my family) is characterized by dramatic contrasts.  First of all, there is the environment--120 acres of pristine land with forests, cougars, deer, and all the comforts of home- hot tub, pool, sauna, cold running water, as much food as I want, etc. 

     There is the staff  which, like many families is about as dysfunctional as you can get. Emotionally  immature, reactive, blaming, victimizing, making excuses, low self-esteem, undeveloped--and that's just me. 

     Then there are the guests and the people who live on the property, which includes this unique and very tiny aggregate of people who prefer to walk around naked--no matter what their size and shape, and I happily among them.

    Just last night there was an open mike--mostly nude people dancing, singing, playing music and Rochelle and I performing a couple of our sketches-- for the first time totally nude, (well, Rochelle wasn't so nude) which we were never able to do in Kansas.

     The staff is full of contrasts and conflicts. Some of us are very competent and helpful while others of us struggle to get to our best, and it seems that I have become the go-to guy for all the venting, complaints and whining --often directed at the other staff members. I try my best to stay out of range of the barrage of verbal abuse. "I just work/live here. I know nothing."

     The other curious thing is that staff members come up to me asking what to do about problems and issues that require an executive decision. "But I just got here." I whine. The manager, just the other night, asked me to decide who was going to be the chef for the evening among a selection of candidates some of whom, including me, aren't really cooks.  "It's your call," I said. Whew! Escaped that one!  
     
     And yet, as A Course in Miracles says, "Everything other than love is a call for help and healing."  Lots of calling here. All day long I am besieged and challenged by this quirky mixed bag of love and asking for love.

     And that doesn't include the guests with their needs and complaints. ("Oh, by the way," says one guest, "All the slats fell out of our bed last night.")
    Just yesterday, with 40 guests for the weekend all wanting breakfast at the same time and a young man, obviously not a cook but being the cook, trying his best to deal with it and the guests having to wait up to 45 minutes for their breakfasts. Not happy campers (literally).    So about an hour later I found myself giving my first all nude apology to a group of 40 naked people all lined up for their class photo. (Do not do this at home)

     Now, because I do tend to exaggerate for the sake of irony, my comments may be offensive to some. If so, I hope you will come and talk to me about them and let me know how you feel and what we can do to make things better.  Sometimes, we find ourselves in a system that is less than perfect and we can rise to the occasion or allow it to bring us down to our less-than-best behavior, the inevitable consequence of living on an immature slowly evolving planet. Whatever we do or say, if we can have dialogue, we can all improve.  So, let's talk.
    But, this is my community and for better or best, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it and to be a source/catalyst for love, healing, evolution and most helpful--humor.
     My home is clearly a place for me to practice what I believe and teach, staying centered when people are dumping on me, exerting self-control in the face of all that free food, not getting sucked in to the ongoing crises that beg for solutions, as well as sorting out the complex array of forces that contribute to this place being what it is, so we can make it more congruent with the beautiful nature that is its context, and of course staying in the "awareness"--practicing the Presence of God.

     Oh, one more thing. Dotted throughout the human landscape I get to experience the most lovely moments of true connection and the sharing of love. Intimate moments (don't go there) of mutual recognition and gratitude. These moments usually come unexpectedly, so I have to stay ever alert to the inevitable miracle hidden a midst this denuded juxtaposition at my clothing optional home.

Think on't
Andy Rumi



Saturday, August 3, 2013

CLOTHING OPTIONAL

"Clothing optional"  I love the sound of those words.
Why? Because I have the belief that if you don't need to wear clothes, why wear them? And when I found out that my new home is in fact, clothing optional, I was delighted."
"But wait, isn't everybody's home clothing optional," you might ask.
Well, yes, but not as "clothing optional" as a Naturist Resort.

A few months ago, when Rochelle and I were liberated from our home in Fairfax, CA by the mortgage company (to the horror of many of our friends, for whom the thought of being homeless at our age was, well.....horrifying.), I was curious as to where we would end up live before we end up.

After moving 15 times +  since May 5, eager to find a home, we've landed at a Naturist Resort where we have found, not only a home-modest though a Yurt may be-but a whole community/system/business that apparently needs our help and our particular talents and gifts--The Naturist "colony" itself. (More on that complex system later)

The community has been in existence since 1935, which shows that it has staying power. It sits on 180 acres of forested land complete with various kinds of abodes (tents, cabins, trailers, yurts) several meeting yurts and a main dining/event room with a commercial kitchen, and a variety of unclothed human shapes.

The sentient beings I live with every day include the people who own the place, the staff, members, guests, interlopers, a herd of 10 deer, skunks, impertinent racoons, lots of bees and flies, and our resident wild cat, who ever assures us that this is her home and beware those who doubt it. She has been seen to eat cats for dessert in the drive way. God only knows whom she ate for an entree?

Indeed, after I landed they put me to work immediately washing dishes-lots of them. I have washed more dishes in the last 3 weeks than in the last 3 years. I like to think I'm getting better at it.  It's my Zen practice. Washing dishes does its best to keep me humble.

And yet,  from a spiritual perspective this "resort" is a veritable paradise.
The system is in need of lots of TLC, especially the people, both those who opt to wear clothes (most of the workers) and those who do not (members and guests). 

Since I've arrived at the realization that the "pearl of great price," as Jeshua called it, is being of service, I can say that I've landed in a veritable paradise. 

My ongoing blog about these adventures will reveal the many stories, characters, plot twists and creative opportunities that we encounter. I have a book's worth of surprises and conundrums already.

Much of the personnel is, shall we say, less than highly evolved (me, for instance, but far be it for me to judge). So, we've been given an opportunity to be part of the healing and evolution of this "Naturist" community. 

Oh, BTW, If you haven't figured it out by now, we're living at what used to be called a "Nudist Colony." but which now prefers to think of itself as a "clothing optional resort."

I'll stop for now and let this sink in and give you time to imagine what it must be like living in a "clothing optional community," and as I've been sitting in a coffee shop writing this-a place where clothing is not optional- for most of the morning, I feel a strong need to get naked.

So I'm going to my new clothing optional home and find some place on its 180 acres of wooded land to....... exercise my option.

Think on't
Andy Rumi