Bare Facts II

Bare FactsAt Sandstone the party goers were first checked in at the door, which faced into a crowded nude gathering in the living room. Part of their entry was a clothed walk through the dining room, then the kitchen and down the stairs to the famous ballroom. At the far end of this dimly-lighted room with posh red carpet they could sink their bare feet into, was a clothes rack where they could unveil themselves (optional) and hang their clothes up neatly.

Now they had options, either stay in the dimly lit ballroom at the bar or on a comfortable mattress in front of the fireplace or head back upstairs and mingle with old timers who were completely comfortable being in the nude. Believe or not, most went back up the stairs to mingle and probably have dinner. One great benefit of being nude; we didn’t need to be concerned about spilling drink or food, it washed off our body without a trace. (Needless to say, that was a tradeoff where hot or iced drinks were concerned!)

Of course, women with small breasts felt self-conscious and questioned GOD about why he had short changed them. Those women retaliated and (in the coming decades) went for the latest high-tech enhancements to come out of Silicone Valley.
Still they eagerly shed their clothing…down to the underpants. Taking off the underpants for some would only come when they felt comfortable enough, and not vulnerable in the environment. Soon they removed the underpants because they felt over dressed, and were surprised that no one stared at them.

The major concern for men was measuring up to the next guy. Was his cock too small or was it too large? Ultimately, it did not make a bit of difference because in the end it was a matter of how he used it to pleasure women. The size of their cock turned out to be the least of their concern. Another concern was being embarrassed walking around with an erection. Not a concern either. The real discovery came when all tensions were removed. it was hard to acquire an erection in such an open, honest and free environment like Sandstone. It often took time to build confidence in this new laid back environment. Sandstone’s environment helped by passively soaking up all the toxic body shame like one of those absorbent pads they advertise on TV, keeping it safely away from the skin.

For those of us that lived at Sandstone on a full time basis, it was utter drudgery having to put on clothes to go downtown grocery shopping or take care of other chores. In the summer clothes were hot and sticky to wear and generally uncomfortable. That’s when it became clear how nudity is a cultural rather than moral phenomenon—we had quickly retrained ourselves to feel awkward ADDING clothing. If we learned anything at Sandstone, it was that culture is something we create, and the things we create ought to bring us joy. Body shame should have been discarded as a bad, outmoded idea along with bellbottom jeans and lime green polyester leisure suits.

Bare Facts, Part One

Revealing antics from Sandstone

Many children go through a period when they are afraid of the dark. It stops the moment they realize that it’s merely daytime with the light missing. Nudity is merely life with the clothes missing.

Our modesty is one area where our minds are way ahead of our hearts. We tacitly agree that every cell in our body contains the full set of genetic code for our journey from a fertilized egg to a bewhiskered octogenarian. That means, oddly enough, that our genitals contain the genetic blueprint for our brains, our eyes, and our lungs. Likewise every neuron in our brain contains the genetic blueprint for our most intimate nether regions. Feeling uncomfortable thinking about that? Perhaps I’d best not mention where the blood supplying your brain was five minutes ago. Yes, there are legitimate practical and cultural reasons for wearing clothes, but dividing the body into naughty and nice zones ain’t one of them!

Dividing up the body into public and private areas is a cultural thing. You can shake a Muslim’s hand when you meet him but not slap his back. 19th century women were loose if they showed a man their ankle. It isn’t a sensitivity they were born with, for as we all know toddlers have no conception of private areas. Once I saw one of the neighbors’ kids escape from a bath and send his two-year-old birthday suit into public exhibition with his exasperated mother in hot pursuit.

For most, experiencing nudity for the first time feels awkward—as if you had too few clothes or too much anatomy. Oddly enough, the feeling of missing something even extends to wearing contact lenses for the first time while you periodically try to adjust glasses that aren’t there. It’s natural to feel vulnerable and self-conscious without our armor on, wondering if we measure up to the others. Habits, conditioning and learning are a program that over a little time we can become comfortable with. For the ones growing up in a family where nudity was accepted, they were comfortable at Sandstone (from the beginning) as ducks in water.

To be continued…

Legacy of the Williamson’s Sandstone Retreat

sandstone retreat legacyOnce NASA was testing a deep space radio array that could reach satellites around the dim outer planets of our solar system. What message did they choose to beam into the vastness of space? It was the Beatles’ song, “Across the Universe”. Among the lyrics were the words:

Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe

In his press release, the usually staid NASA reporter said, “With nothing to stop it, this song will go on across the universe. It has achieved a form of immortality.”

That’s a very romantic image, and I’m as much a Beatles fan as anyone else of my generation, but chances are the signal will be too weak and distorted to appeal to teenagers on some distant inhabited planet. Sandstone, on the other hand, put a ripple in our social fabric that does indeed change lives. John was indeed a limitless undying love that shone around me like a million suns, and he does call me on and on across the universe.

I remember one evening at Sandstone when a successful gentlemen approached me to say thank you for an unforgettable weekend. “It was like falling down the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland,” he laughed. “Exciting, crazy, a kaleidoscope of wild emotions, a thrill ride I will always remember.” He took my hand and brought it to his lips, kissing it softly. “Thank you, Miss Barbara, for the most magical unforgettable weekend of my life.”

So let that be Sandstone’s legacy—a magical Camelot for one brief and shining moment, too exciting and beautiful to ever be forgotten.


Spiritual FreedomMy good friend and Anthropologist, the late Sally Binford, declared that the human race has been a failed experiment. She stated that human’s shortfall was linked to a failed social consciousness and lack of understanding one’s self. Hopefully, we will prove her wrong. Her words “man is not longed for in this world” still echo in my mind. I view this issue as being non-accepting of our sexuality.

Why did we bury, deep in our consciousness, the fact that we are hyper-sexual beings? Author Christopher Ryan, in his book, SEX at DAWN, compared us to the Bonobo monkeys. The females would enjoy sex throughout the day, with different partners, while they went about their chores. Sex in some cultures is simply a part of their daily routine that is as common as eating or brushing teeth. Most of our culture still follows the path of centuries old repression surrendering to puritanical slavery, as their old reactive and automatic programming dictates.
Sexuality is an integrating force of such scope and magnitude that our culture has overlooked. Sexuality, if accepted, is socially stabilizing to our culture.

Without owning our sexuality we can never be whole people; just fragments here and there. We subject ourselves to easily be controlled by other people and corporations seeking power to manipulate us for their own purposes.

Our Sandstone experience convinced each and every one of us to embrace the liberation and exuberance we felt; from the opportunity to walk around nude in a beautiful natural setting away from the chatter of artificiality. We loved our bodies and enjoyed the light breeze blowing on bare skin. Add the freedom of open sexuality and the past centuries of sexual repression goes away like a puff of smoke.

The conclusion of the story is while we were enjoying our new sexual freedom, we became strong individuals with newly developed principals and related to our peers with equality and interdependence. Dependencies in the way we had known them simply disappeared.


Most Liberated woman

In 1972, Gay Talese, author of a book about Sex in America, sat for an interview with Playboy Magazine. Not surprisingly, Sandstone, John and I came up during the conversation, and Gay tagged me “the most liberated woman in America.” That was one accolade all my slaving away in capitalism could not win for me. Liberated…that sounds like freedom, right? As in freedom from growing up in Rural America, as in freedom from buying and selling, and—dare I say it—freedom from puritanical slavery to the traditional Western dictatorship of shame? Now there is a plaque I would be proud to hang on my wall!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but liberated describes me and our forty seven year marriage. Yes, you heard me—I did say “liberated” and “marriage” in one sentence that did not refer to divorce! Don’t laugh, folks, it’s possible. I’ve made it my mission in life to show you how and why.

To me, real liberation means individual freedom to make choices and decisions in life that are responsible, considerate, respectful, and caring. Not only for myself, but for maintaining the planet, and the effect on people I love, as well as the ones that love me. There I go messing with your mind again…I did say freedom and responsibility in the same sentence. If you’re wondering what I’ve been drinking, it’s iced tea, thank you very much, and you’re welcome to join me in a glass. Freedom and responsibility are not natural enemies. In fact, the key word is “natural”, and when you strive to put the nature back in human nature, not only do freedom and responsibility get along, so do marriage and liberation.

Along with a new lifestyle, I found it necessary to examine and adopt a new attitude and belief system. When the centuries old traditions, social attitudes, and perspectives fail to produce happiness and well being, it’s time for a change. Our lives have a limited time on earth so it is with a sense of urgency that we discover happiness, joy, and a positive attitude. The brain is the culprit that is interfering with the ability for us to enjoy living in a positive space. Actually, the brain feeds the “Ego” which gives us a false personality. It’s the brain that sends us out on shopping expeditions, travel, and seeking sex to distract us from fulfilling our spirit and soul needs.
Discovering the power path to the heart is the pathway to our true self. The heart has a magnetic field 500 times more powerful than our brain. We can trust our heart to show us our real self.

Entering a new lifestyle brings into question the outdated vocabulary we use to describe elements of our relationships. Example: Referring to our partner as a piece of property, this is “my husband or my wife”, is just plain wrong. Why not say the individuals name or if more of a label is necessary, say this is “my life partner or significant other.” That allows each person to maintain the dignity of being an individual. You can carry this ownership further: my house, my car, my furniture, my kids, etc. is used continually. Since it is impossible to literally own another person, why not trade it in for more positive descriptions. Otherwise, that mindset leads to negative feelings of alienation, jealousy, possessiveness, unhappiness, and distrust of one another.

The Sandstone membership marveled at the relationship John and I had built, and said they wished to have one like it. I told them it was possible and would simply take a strong commitment on their part to hang in there through the hard times. We worked hard to build trust, love, compassion, and equality into our relationship every day. We felt so confident and secure in our relationship that it was then easy for us to open our marriage and bring others into our bond. Our dream interdependent relationship allowed us complete freedom of choice and a healthy lifestyle. What could be better for a couple than to desire love and happiness for one another?

Embracing an Alternate Lifestyle

The Alternative Lifestyle

As a single and successful farm girl of 24, I managed to survive and thrive in the male dominated world of sales. I loved a challenge and took a position with a major corporation where I soon was a major player. Needless to say, my rise to prominence put a lot of men’s noses out of joint, and they made not-so-subtle suggestions to me that I should stay home and raise kids. I told them it was a great idea, and I could hardly wait to ignore it!

Yet even after establishing a stellar sales record and winning many awards, the so-called “American Dream” was looking more like a nightmare. I was working harder and living less. I found being cooped up in an office, no matter how spacious, was intolerable, so I would drive to see my clients. That presented another problem: suffering through the congestion on L.A. freeways at least three hours a day. Yes, I was independent and owned my business and could buy what I wanted, but this was not my idea of freedom or happiness.

When the pain of schlepping through this sterile, cold, dog eat dog environment began wearing me thinner than a one-sided dime, I knew I had to find a way out. This job was turning me into a robot, and I didn’t fight to leave one sort of zombie existence just to find another. I began to dream of a new and better way of life. I had the spunk and the motivation…all I needed was the method.

A short time thereafter I was on a sales appointment and met that mystical person, that sense of completion, in a man named John Williamson. I call him a man…he was more like an idea, a movement, a category of one. I came to sell him an insurance policy and he sold me a great destiny.
We found that we wanted the same things in life. So, with John’s engineering and problem solving background, we agreed to design and create an alternate lifestyle. We knew there would be controversy and our new ideas wouldn’t fly in the face of established religious beliefs and old cultural conditioning.

For me personally, I must embrace change and re-evaluate my principals. I was hesitant towards an alternate life style but, at the same time, I was seeing grand rewards. Towards a New Psychology of Being by Abraham Maslow provided us the knowledge that humans actually had a hierarchy of basic needs to be filled. Sex was near the top of the list.

So John and I created Sandstone Retreat. It was a dream for me that had come true. When I awoke, I found myself in a “back to nature setting”, a love community like the one described in Robert Heinlein’s book, Stranger in a Strange Land. We were all nude and practiced open sexuality without guilt or shame, and we were free from jealousy and possessiveness after shedding some raw emotion. Honesty, openness, and mutual respect were our garments, so we had little need for the curtain of privacy. Love is the most powerful emotion on the planet. It begins with learning to love ourselves, and it naturally follows that the love with us attracts the love of others. The rest takes care of itself.

An alternate lifestyle was attractive to our Sandstone membership. All shared in living a happier and healthier life with the opportunity to better understand ourselves. We learned how to be our true self (rather than a false ego personality) and grow into an inter-dependent person, and the best part was that we were sexually liberated.

The Sexual Revolution Continues…

In the late 60’s, my life partner John and I created the first—and perhaps the only—commune for grown-ups where open sexuality could flourish.  Sandstone Retreat was fifteen acres of paradise nestled in the wooded splendor of Topanga Canyon, California, surrounded by sweeping vistas of the Malibu Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  In this enchanted community dwelt people whose mind, body and sexuality came together in perfect and unrestrained unity.  The dress code was one’s own living garment, the only suit that could feel as well as be felt. The mindset was acceptance of all things sensual. Like all things that harmonize with nature, it worked remarkably well.

Over the course of four years, no less than six thousand members, came to play, party, and break the bondage of their sexual repression with the gentle encouragement of other members. Those who shared the Sandstone Experience know that its impact has not lessened over time.

It warms my heart to pay tribute to Nicole Daedone.  Nicole has had extraordinary success in continuing the Sexual Revolution.  She is the author of Slow Sex, and is in demand as a speaker on unlocking sexuality through Orgasmic Meditation. What a blessing to humanity she is, as she effortlessly and tirelessly cultivates a better understanding of the need for—and benefits of—open sexuality.

She continues to provide a major breakthrough for the huge number of women who have been sexually repressed for centuries and did not realize it.  She also pinpointed a hunger in women that could only be satisfied through orgasm.

Still in today’s culture talk of sexuality or even the thought of it, is frowned up on.  It has been a problem for centuries and continues to be one.  However, with people like Nicole and her monumental contributions towards awareness, it offers them choices in how to live a healthier lifestyle.  If more people like her continue the sexual revolution then the culture benefits.  Going against what society says is okay, Nicole takes on the intimidating task of speaking courageously and openly about sexuality. It is not an easy thing to do but her desire to inform people allows her to be courageous enough to openly and honestly speak the truth and truth shall always set us free.  If we had more people like Nicole who stepped up to the plate, imagine how different the world would look.

Our sexuality is an integrating force of such scope and magnitude that has somehow been overlooked by the culture.  How did this happen?

Sexually Repressed in the Midwest: Growing up in Middle America

Nothing changes in Nature’s beauty – it is always beautiful!  Imagine the view of vibrant green rolling hills, populated with massive fields of varying crops, wheat, corn, hay and more.  Additionally, clear water streams satisfied any appetite of a fly fisherman. It was a hunter’s paradise.  The Midwest produced an incredible number of commodity crops that were distributed around the world to feed the hungry.

Contrary to what the New Yorker’s had to say about us; “there simply was nothing between N. Y. and Los Angeles.”  In fact, the truth; the Midwest has always been a stabilizing force for the USA.  We were proud to feed America and provide sanity for city folks retreat.  Remarks such as these were further damaging to my own self-worth.

Being a young farm girl and growing into a teenager, time passed ever so slow, filled with frustration, misery and pain. It felt like wearing a straight jacket, and I dreamed of having wings to move on to a happier and freer lifestyle.   All the pent up emotions and feelings from being restrained would later need to be undone for me to be happy and live a rewarding life. Family support was minimal, and few other children to play with.  Rag doll, orphan Annie was my trusted companion.  I loved her and my other best friend was a little dog named boots, who loved to escort me through the fields on the way to catch fish. She and boots went everywhere with me.  Our favorite country song had lyrics that said” somehow we will get by.”  Our song to inspire us! The second song lyrics to keep us going; “love makes the world go around”.  What eluded me was the feeling of love.  I was starved for touch, pleasure and play!

Positive for me, I was born before Dr. Spock recommended all babies should be bottle fed.  Years later the dangers of bottle feeding became known, it hindered bonding between mother and infant, further destabilizing childhood development.

It was a hard life being a farmer.  Always concerned about whether the crops would grow to maturity or be wiped out by drought, freezing or heavy rains. There were many chores to be done on the farm and my dad needed a boy and mom needed a girl so I filled in for both of them.

So much suffering and misery existed because everyone was sexually repressed!  The subject of sex was taboo!  Even hugs were off limits—it may lead to something??? Everyone was deprived of love and could not discover the remedy.  Under my breath I said someday I will work to diminish sexual repression and a few years later in 1969 I led the sexual revolution from Sandstone Retreat in Topanga Ca.. I am proud of this accomplishment!

Severing Ties

Hello Mom,

Remember me? Ironic isn’t it that I should start a string of good byes with a hello, and yet I have changed so much I was afraid you wouldn’t know me. Yes, its little Barbara, though with the passage of time I’ve come to look more like a sister. The wrinkles we share—some would call them character—were etched there by hard work and care, but the type of work and the nature of that care is where the resemblance ends. Our parting was a bit like one of those intersections where you can only turn left or right. You went your way and I went mine. We both aged, but I got there from living, you from existing.

I didn’t say good bye before I headed west to make my way in Southern California. I didn’t think you would listen or want to hear my reasons for the need to completely sever our ties.  Somehow having to settle for saying it AT you rather than TO you was just too much and so I skipped it.

We had sixteen uncomfortable years together. I might get a charitable impulse to say that there was blame on both sides, but how can I?  I was the child…you were the adult…you can’t expect me to supply the guidance, the example, love enough for both of us?  You muffed it, and the time we could have been not only family but good friends was lost forever. Damn, that hurts, but farm folk like you value honesty, and that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

What did you tell your friends at church? That I wanted to head to Hollywood and be a movie star? Or that I was an ungrateful brat who dashed off without so much as a good bye? I’ll grant you this, I was ungrateful. Most people have very little gratitude for sixteen years of emotional neglect.

I spent sixteen years very much alone, trying to figure everything out for myself.  That was hard and painful, and being that I was a girl, it felt as though I was not worthy of family support or an investment in my future.  You were not there to help me through my hard days.  I am not sure you or dad even knew how.  I just wanted to feel that I was important. I clung to the hope that it was not somehow all my fault. My faithful little mutt named “Boots” believed in me. So did my rag doll “Little Orphan Annie” whose kindly whispers were probably echoes from my own indomitable spirit.

After a while I gave up on you, deciding that the Stork had made an error and delivered me to the wrong family. And I would leave soon as humanly possible and spare us both a lot of heartache.

Good bye, Mother. There, I said it, but I have another one. What most people rate as a mother I never had, so I could never lose it. I did miss like holy hell all the things you could have been if you would have—or could have—put your mind to it. Now you are laid to rest with your folks. I was not there to throw in a handful of earth—that happened when I was sixteen and shook the dust of that crummy town from my boots. Still, in honor of the woman you could have been, good bye. I hope you found freedom on the other side, or at least some inkling of what opportunities you missed.

To this day, after all the success that has befallen me, I’ve still have those early feelings of abandonment and on some days feel utterly worthless and helpless.  It’s time to say good bye to that too. There is a bright tomorrow just over the horizon, and I want to see the sun rise without the baggage of yesterday weighing me down for one more minute. With only one life to live I needed to fill it with discovery, adventure, loving relationships and experiential learning. Life is too valuable to waste on mediocrity and loneliness.  It may have been enough for you. Maybe it wasn’t and you just didn’t know why it hurt. Yet I am living proof that you don’t have to be a victim of your own upbringing. I hope wherever you are that you have discovered this.


Become a Visionary

Every few years the old argument of nature vs. nurture surfaces. One side insists some people are born with a criminal bent, others insist that all bad people are born with a toxic environment.

Poor misguided fools—and I mean both sides! What they should be asking is not circumstances like nature vs. nurture, but rather a conscious choice to be proactive or a reactor. Many girls that grew up on a farm were reactors, waiting for luck to change and opportunity to knock. I decided to become an actor and take the bull by the horns.

Actively charting my course in life developed mental abilities that most people underuse. By most standards I am now considered a visionary.   I turned to Webster’s for clarification, and it described visionaries as possessing unusually acute foresight and imagination.

Wow, that was heady stuff for a girl from Haystack USA who struggled with a low sense of self-worth! In my lonely youth I often found comfort observing nature and connecting with other critters that seemed happier than me. Already I had missed learning how to play, which is an essential part of a healthy childhood. But I found the flip side to loneliness—solitude—and discovered the secret strength of meditation and contemplation.

As an actor, I was still a realist. The success I sought was delayed by Mother Nature, but that only gave me more time to plan and revise. Would I meet my dream Prince, and would we be happy forever after? Would we be productive and benefit our society?  My introspection was endless but I was satisfied with the answers. The best part, they were MY answers. I was an independent girl with an attitude.

Starting very young I became determined to live my own life. After all, it was my life and no one should even be trying to lay claim to it. However, I witnessed other people meddling in lives where they had no business.  This caused me to be aloof to outside meddlers.  It seemed easier for them to attempt to tell others what to do instead of tending to their own life.  Never the less, I was and am solely in charge! We only get one life to live on this planet earth! Make the most of it without interference.

Don’t feel sorry for me during my challenging childhood days.  Meeting the challenges in my life has caused some to observe that I developed into the strongest personality they have ever known. That is payment enough for me.