Updated my Pages

This morning I’ve been updating my pages to reflect the projects I have been working on in the past year – there may be more to come but this makes a start. Maybe someone wants to take a look?

I have done projects on User conflicts in woodlands, Women’s self-acceptance and on Ash trees.

Exam day

Whoa!

In 2 hours I will know how it went with the project on Women’s Bodies, the one that has naturism and life modelling in it. To be honest, I am quite nervous, which also shows on my blood glucose levels… Not the ideal conditions for an exam to be honest.

We have to do a presentation and then later, there is a socalled ‘informal chat’… Right. We shall see how it goes.

Two projects handed in

Oh my! That took a bit of effort but finally, the Ash project and the Body Image and Self-Acceptance project have both been handed in.

I am feeling a little apprehensive but I believe it will be okay. Exams in a couple weeks based on the project about Body Image and Self-Acceptance.

I think I just want to stay in bed with a book for a little while. Been a hectic week. I deserve som peace and quiet I think.

Communicating Heritage

Starting to do some proper work on my extra semester project about Ash trees. I’ve interviewed a biologist about the cloning of resistant ash trees and about the importance of ash for biodiversity – I spoke to a Danish biologist and she was very helpful.

Today, I’ve been having a correspondence with the Norse faith society ‘Forn Sidr’ who have explained what the ash tree means to them mythologically and symbolically and I learned some new things that I will certainly need.

I’ve been accumulating a lot of material from the Danish Naturstyrelsen and from Forestry Commission and have obtained a contact that I might use to shed a little more light on the UK side of things.

I am struggling a little to get hold of someone with a knowledge of Celtic tradition and faith and how ash is perceived through their lens. I can read a lot about it online but there are a few question I would like to have the opportunity to ask. Don’t suppose any of you know someone with a link to Celtic tradition?

The idea is then to find out how to communicate the situation with Ash Dieback to different target groups depending on their level of interest and their focus, testing what can be done with the direct and peripheral routes, suggesting a couple of campaigns to promote knowledge about Ash.

Otherwise, doing the finishing bits of the project on female body-image and life modelling and naturism. My partner on that project is a little stuck, she says, so I will need to try and offer some coaching tomorrow and see if we can get her unstuck. She’s writing things on the cultural differences in body-ideals and how advertisements play a role in what ideals young women adopt.

All’s well that ends well

Today, I had been asked to do a presentation at the local health centre in relation to the support groups I facilitate for diabetics. The local chairman for the diabetes charity had asked me to come at 3 pm, so I arranged to come in early for my volunteering at the Archive so I could leave a bit earlier.

I’m there well in advance at 2.30, not sure where the room is so I ask around, and someone is kind enough to show me there, then push me through the door with a ‘Oh, thought you didn’t start until 3!!’ and there I am in a room full of people, an angry chairman and all eyes on me, and then the nurse continues her presentation, telling everyone that ‘Stress can affect your memory’ and points at me, at which point everyone roars with laugther. I feel intensely uncomfortable, I must admit.

In a short break I double check my mails and confirm I’ve never been told anything else than ‘Turn up at 3 pm in this location’. I don’t feel particularly great at that point. Then it’s my turn to do a presentation in front of the people who’ve just laughed at me.

So I get up, plug in my USB and bring up the presentation. Look people in the eye. Breathe. Smile. And tell them how awesome it is to be me – allowed to help people like them achieve the results they want in their lives. Tell them about the concept. How they will learn from each other. How I will learn from them. How we will go on a journey together. I make them laugh. I plant my feet on the ground and just own the room. I know what I want to say.

People sign up. The other nurse in the room say it was a brilliant presentation.

I asked the chairman to not put me in that situation again. He apologised. We shook hands.

Oh well. Not one of the finest moments to begin with, but I managed to make the most of it.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the project. Naturism one. It needs some love.

The Gaze and The Regard

Currently for the project working with Lacan’s concept of ‘The Gaze’ – the awareness that you can be viewed from the outside and how that makes people anxious because it takes away some of their autonomy in a sense – makes them a little incongruent with themselves because of this external gaze, making them aware that they are objects to others – and on the other hand the ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’ that Carl Rogers says is one of the reasons therapist and client relationships work – that the experience of being accepted is helping people examine and accept themselves.

Applying these theories to women in a social nudity setting as a con and pro voice respectively in my opinion reveals that they both have something to add to the debate but also that the fundamental qualities of this Mirror Awareness that Lacan speaks about is probably not so fundamental, or at least not so absolute. I believe that it is the quality of the gaze, the regard, even when it is mostly neutral, that makes it a positive and healing experience or a negative and alienating experience – many of the models I have talked to say that the fact that they are just models – good models maybe but not irreplaceable – even though it sounds like a devaluation, actually find that it gives them freedom and puts them in a mindful state where they experience what is and accept it while still being very present in the moment, and naked both physically and mentally.

This leads me to think that the ‘fear of the gaze’ is perhaps a cultural construct to some degree. The experiences of the models and also the naturists, seem to show that there is a level of Buddhist truth to the concept of Dukkha – the slight, ever present unease or annoyance when we wish things were different, and that peace and happiness is not so much getting all that you want, and arriving at that point on the horizon. No, it is an acceptance of what is, leading to an absence of unease, an absence where happiness emerges as a negation, an absence of all the things that should be different.

And it’s this experience, this meditative being-there, that I wish to convey to people – both in experience products related to art modelling, naturism and mindfulness, but also in a more general debate about ideals and bodies and goals – we get so much further by being kind to ourselves and to each other. Whether that is in front of the mirror, with a partner, in the locker room or when walking down the street. What is there is what is there and that’s alright. Really, it’s okay.

In case anyone wants to read about how a starting point of acceptance is good for change too, weight loss for instance, take a look here: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar06/health0306.htm

And everyone have a good day!

Lake

Not all mirrors are bad…

Working on the Project

Had a long meeting with my group mate yesterday in the library. We were discussing where we are going with the project – theories, viewpoints and how it all relates to the degree we’re doing.

Because it is a new professional degree, only 5-6 years old, it’s still very much up to us to define what we want to do with it and exactly what the profession should be. At the same time, of course, it is important that we are sufficiently in alignment with what our lecturers think it is about, so on Friday we have a group meeting to bounce some viewpoints off our supervisor, also. See what that does.

In order to get some empirical material, I did a telephone interview with a female naturist yesterday, it was a very lovely lady who was friendly, open and happy – very pleasant to talk to, and I had multiple laughs along the way. She is also a model, so I got a few bits of input on that front, too.

She also told me of their mobile sauna – an old camping caravan stripped of all the furniture and fitted as a sauna, so they are going to drive that one around on the beaches this summer, inviting people in. I’ll admit to giving them a great LIKE on Facebook. What a great idea for an experience design. And simple, too.

Apart from this, I still take some photos, and try to make time for some good long walks.

Purple Flower

Project Venue

During the past few weeks, I’ve felt a bit busy – I have been making initial contacts for my part of the project – some of which worked out better than others. I’ve now got a contact and a really nice location for our experiment if it will work out – it will be excellent to have the option to actually make something happen this time.

I still need to talk to quite a few people, and I need to try and find participants who are curious about body images and themselves. I think it may be a challenge, but if we can do it, it will be really really good.

The idea is to introduce younger women to body acceptance through an event which combines aspects of naturism and life modelling. And see if we can measure any changes in their view of themselves and others. And also whether they have found the experience rewarding, of course.

I will try to keep you updated on what is going to happen. It’s quite exciting. And okay, admitted, it’s also a bit scary – it will be my first project like that. Suppose it is alright to have butterflies?

Next stop: Naturism

The problem statement for my next project is taking form. I will be writing it with a fellow student and we will look at how art and advertisement change the female body ideal and how we might get back to a more realistic sense of how we look and should look. She will be looking into art and I will be looking into live modelling and naturism as ways of getting back into an immediate relationship to oneself.

I am starting to think about places to get data and who it might be good to interview.

Projects are always interesting in an intercultural education like mine – and at the same time tricky because Stuart Hall gets in the way. Well, not Stu himself but the idea that one can send out something with the best of intentions but if the receiver is not close enough to you in a cultural sense, your preferred reading of your intentions can be turned into an opposing understanding. I am hoping this time it will be a bit simpler to land on something that we can be happy with and that the process can be a bit more pleasant, too.

It’s going to be great fun though, I know it. The project topic is one that really matters to me.