Album #2 – Transcending

Namaste Friends, I hope this finds you well and using your energy to find all the ways you can, to thrive in this rapidly changing world.


This album (2 of 12 to date) reflects the realization that I could use my body to express myself through images, and that nudity enhanced or expanded what i could say, as did new photographic skills, accessorizing, and better equipment, my storytelling tools.

This is me coming home, and re-discovering a sense of confidence in my own skin. This is when I realized my body was beautiful, and not the horrid, defective, source of betrayal I had come to regard it as being. I had tried to make myself believe it before, with some success, however this is me capturing a newfound love of my whole self, my image, my body, my ability to capture what I was feeling; and my courage for trying to do so.

This is me realizing I could be whoever I wanted to be, that I didn’t have to be who I’d been told I was; too loud and smart to be ignored but too young and pretty to be taken seriously. Thighs and butt too big and lumpy to be sexy, but a face and smile to draw a crowd. A body not good enough for commercial purposes, a mind too quick to be contained. I am grateful they dared suggest my irrelevance, the slap in the face woke me up. This is me realising they don’t get to sideline me in my own life.

This is my story to tell.

I felt alive, free, playful, and exuberant. I was breathing in the world as it turned its monolithic head, and glanced at me. A nod , a sign post to indicate I was heading in the right direction.

There was a sense of something coming out and showing itself to the world, I was overcoming beliefs about my body that  I learned in my formative years, comparisons made, unhelpful, critical comments, sexist inappropriate, unnecessary remarks. I see now how they made their insecurities mine.

Well fuck them.

I am taking back my body.

My right to live as I please.

I take back my sovereignty and the right to write my own story, to reject their criticisms and their perspectives of me. I will not doubt myself like that again.

This gallery is a reflection of the moments in which I started to really see my self.

This gallery is a reflection of the moments in which I started to really believe in myself.

In these moments I started to fully love myself again, and through this process I began to transcend.

To a place more peaceful than where I had been.

A place where I could lay the pieces of myself out and see them in a way they’d never been seen.

In these moments of deep reflection, I started to make sense of my self, for myself.

Walk and touch peace every moment.

Walk and touch happiness every moment.

Each step brings a fresh breeze.

Each step makes a flower bloom.

Kiss the Earth with your feet.

Bring the Earth your love and happiness.

The Earth will be safe

when we feel safe in ourselves.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.

Namaste.

What it is to be a wild woman

I fucking hate toxic positivity.

“Keep it above the line…”, I was told.

“Let people speak for themselves”.

“Your problem is you care”.

“Not everyone feels like you”.

We don’t want to hear anything bad about ourselves or what we’re doing. No-one else is brave enough to speak up, and that’s the way we like it. We don’t understand your suggestions or concerns, you’re looking at it all wrong. We have lulled the others into a false sense of security and you are threatening the status quo.


I could be a team player, I could play between the lines when it made sense, I could even smile on cue. But I couldn’t fucking tolerate pretending everything was fine when it fucking wasn’t. I was done with that.

For me, stepping over, fully, from good girl to wild woman, was the moment I completely rejected the notion that I had to be right and liked and approved of by most of the people most of the time. Fuck it. Fuck them. Fuck everyone.

Whatever. I went the distance, I stepped up, I stepped in and it still wasn’t good enough???  I am done settling.I’m done taking orders from people who wont step into the arena.

I bring my best. I learn, I grow.

I have had enough feedback in my life, in so many different forms, to understand well enough  now how I am seen, in all the roles I have played. Role identity is not always a helpful concept, another tool for categorising and fragmenting our selves. But being able to assign feedback to a certain role is useful. If the time comes that feedback suggests this role is no longer serving you, having the ability to release yourself from that identity, by ‘retiring’ the role, is a freedom many forget they have.

When you can step away from (or out of) the norms and expectations of certain role identities you have adopted, you can start to see where there is good fit and where there may be potential dissonance. This is hard. It is very confronting and, if you really acknowledge what you learn, you can’t then ignore what you’ve seen.

Quite a few years ago now, I did a leadership identity exercise as part of a course and had to ask  the people who knew me best at the time, when they believed I was at my best. They all said pretty much the same thing. The people around me see me at  my best when I am helping other people be at their best.

I fucking hated that.

The tantrum was real.

I didn’t want to be always using my energy to help others. When did I get to finally help myself? When was it my turn to love me?

It took me a long time to fully realise two things:

  • Loving others is loving yourself; and
  • I could choose to start loving me any time, whenever I wanted.

But the thing about keeping it ‘above the line’ is that you never talk about the stuff that needs to be talked about. You never get to demonstrate your ability to love and accept unconditionally, or to experience unconditional love. And you don’t get all the feedback about yourself that you need to learn and grown as a human being.

Toxic positivity and a culture of ‘politeness’, usually masks an underlying culture of blame.

Just keep smiling and do your job.

I’m just going to keep tolerating you because that’s the polite thing to do.


As a woman I have had to learn the hardest of ways, that it is not safe to be polite. Setting boundaries, saying ‘no’, and asking to have your needs met can’t always be done with a courteous ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  Particularly in a society where the social norm, is for women to serve men.

I get your dinner.

I wash your clothes.

I let you think you’re right.

And now look at the fucking mess we’re in.

And so now I’m mad. Now the wild woman surfaces.

The crone doesn’t mind if you think she’s crazy. The maiden has been set free. The child is safe and happy. And the wild woman dances with glee.

The wild woman dances with glee ~ Simone B’Free

The wild woman knows that it is no longer safe to keep it ‘above the line’, it’s time for the difficult conversations, and that it’s time for us to acknowledge that ‘polite’, ‘and professional’ are just sanitised, construed, inauthentic half-versions of ourselves.

To keep the peace, to not rock the boat; it’s simply enabling the bullshit to go on.

To be a wild woman is to speak your mind, to use your voice, your power, to serve and protect what you love, to stand your ground or move into another space, whatever sets you free.

Wild women, be free ~ Simone B’Free

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Namaste

SB’F x



Censorship and codswallop

Imagine….


The auditorium is packed with hundreds, possibly a thousand or so people, there is a buzzing energy, curiosity rife. People waiting to hear your story, they settle and listen, intrigued and engaged as you begin.


Four lines in and this epic tale is cut short. The microphone is switched off and the lights go out. You look around for some source of light, trying to get your bearings, looking for a way out. The exit signs are clear, breathe and flow with the light. Your eyes adjust and the path becomes clear…


Out in the foyer, the carpark, in the cafes and all around are friends who are waiting for you. Some had never been in the auditorium, others had and didn’t like it, but none thought that your story was any the less because it wasn’t told inside.

Yesterday my LinkedIn account was ‘restricted’, which basically means they block my profile, no one can see my posts or comments on their posts, no messaging and I can’t access the account. Of course, any of my work that was published by a customer organisation has been protected from this cancellation. But I died. I am no longer live in that world. My legacy has been sanitised and archived for the purposes of corporate game playing only.


I laughed when I realised.


I can’t say there was no hurt at all.


The ambition, the drive, still the attachment breathes.


The remnants of an identity built on so much.


So much sacrifice.

Loss, an inevitable.


As you release and make the transition

only you will know

when it is time to grasp again

or learn to ride the flow.

Liberation


The corporate aspect of my identity had to ‘die’. And they helped light the path.


My guess  as to what happened (please feel free to educate me here people!) – An algorithm would have detected the links, another one would have scanned the linked site for ‘prohibited content’, found some, sent a message back to let ‘everyone’ (i.e. the other programs) know, an email is automatically generated as the scan continues, more banned substances found, account blocked. There was no time for me to respond, apologise, delete links, posts etc. First email came it at 11.54pm, second at 11.56pm on a Wednesday night, and by 9.15am the next morning I had noticed that I had been locked out of the account (which I now realise was never ‘mine’, I was just allowed to use it so long as I played by the rules).


So I am now free from the whole corporate networking game…what a relief.  So much energy released. And my ‘death’ has occurred only for those who’s whole network exists within that game.
I had thought ahead a little and had a 2 week plan for content , they gave me 1. Which really, if you’ve only got 1 week to say goodbye to a whole chunk of your social network…..I’m pretty happy with how I went out!


But to you all still here with me, in the carpark or the cafe as it may be, this is where the real story begins.


The story of a young girl with a willow tree spirit guide who grows and transforms, and who steps into her authentic identity, surrounded by so many for whom she has so much gratitude.


The universe had whispered to me, not so long ago, that spirit guides can be living ‘you know’… and now I see.


And here also begins the integration with emergent identity, Simone B’Free .


She who could not be any less corporate, in fact she thinks it is a load of codswallop (someone said that about a comment of mine recently – lol love it). But she also knows there are good people dabbling in the corporate world, people who embrace their shadow and explore the world in full. People who are doing good from within.  People who have just begun exploring what else could be…


Here the journey of the crone, the one who claims herself as healer, witch and priestess, just as she did, teacher, coach and therapist, here the journey begins.

Remind me also to use ‘nincompoop’ in a sentence at some point too….

Simone B’Free contemplates life ‘on the outside’…

My Naked Awakening

My ‘Nudie’ Origin Story – Shari Read PhD

This article was originally written for TAN Magazine

A few years ago I was on my way back from a work trip and had the opportunity to spend a week in Hawaii on my own. I had booked a lovely little private villa in a small complex with a private courtyard and, after a brief contemplation of my dislike for tan lines, quickly discovered the joy of nude sunbathing. I’d been traveling on my own and was already an avid selfie taker so it seemed only natural to take a few of myself in the nude. Once I had a couple I liked, it just seemed natural to share them with my husband (they weren’t going on FB!). We’d never done that sort of thing before so it was a bit of a leap of faith to just send a nude out of the blue; turned out ok!

Reflecting on the last few years and my growing tendency to be outside in the nude whenever possible and delay putting clothing back on after showering and the like, sleeping nude, wandering around the garden nude, I realise I’ve been a nudist for a while now. But I didn’t know about nudism and naturism as an ideology or philosophy or perspective on life.

I am in a very fortunate position in this moment of my life, to be able to pause and take the time to do whatever brings me joy. So in thinking about my options I remembered something I had never told a soul before, that for as long as I can remember I have wanted to pose nude for a life drawing class or photography shoot. I was ashamed of this fantasy because I believed that my body wasn’t good enough. But thankfully I have grown as a person over the years and now accept all of the various aspects of myself, including this desire to be ‘seen’, in a non-judgmental, non-sexual environment. So, I went looking for an opportunity with the hope someone out there who knows what they are doing (i.e. a legitimate photographer) might want to photograph me nude! My new friend Nigel was kind enough to relieve me of my nervous anticipation within a few hours of posting a message online.

In seeking out the chance to be a nude model I came across the website TrueNudist, I made an account and started putting my profile together and spent time looking at other people’s profiles to try and understand who the people in this online community are and in what ways I might relate or even belong in terms of shared identity. It is a mixed bag to say the least but in exchanging intellectually driven conversation with some of the true naturists in the online community I have learnt a great deal about the lifestyle and beliefs around it.

I have been an environmentalist my entire life, I have always felt my connection with nature, I have questioned the nature of money and the entrapment of the economy since I was a teenager and more recently, I have been a disruptor of corporate thinking and practice as a business school academic and spiritual teacher.  Learning about nudism and naturism had me on my knees, literally, sobbing with gratitude. To discover there is a global community of people who see the world differently, who understand what it means to be non-judgmental, welcoming and accepting but are also able to be protective of something special…an entire community of people who are both strong and soft…well, I’ve been looking for you all for a long time.

Sharing my thoughts and perspective on nudity with my husband and two daughters, almost instantly improved our relationships. Communication is more open and freer; we can explore an expanded range of topics more comfortably and we all feel less judged and judging. Within weeks I have made connections with people I can imagine staying in contact with for the rest of my life. And I have a renewed sense of purpose in my life.

For many years, like so many others, my work has been about raising awareness about the need for radical social change and helping people re-imagine what the future could be like. Since leaving academia mid-2021 I have been exploring the idea of becoming an activist for human-centered, system-wide  social transformation however in discovering nudism I feel that I have connected with a deeper message around shedding the societal norms and expectations that keep us stuck in old, unhelpful patterns.

In 2016 the World Economic Forum released the findings of a survey which found that 86% of respondents believed we were experiencing a global leadership crisis. The research revealed an alarmingly weak correspondence between power and competency, a major fault in our current models of leadership. As a result, increasing numbers of people lack trust in leadership of all forms, political, organisational, religious and so on. Essentially, effective leadership is built on trust and we know from experience and research that those people most effective at building trust know how to listen and understand a variety of perspectives, be present and non-judgmental, have integrity and show up as their authentic selves. What I have discovered very recently is that the genuine nudist/naturist community seems to have a greater number of people fitting this description than the general community. People who can free themselves of the hangups of the ego just to delight in the simple pleasure of the sun on their bare skin or the authentic company of good friends who it is safe to be vulnerable with, these are the types of people we need leading our communities now.

And so, with all of this coming together in this way, at this point in my life, I feel ready to take a stand and go nude for change. And knowing there is a global community of people who I experience a shared identity with gives me courage to step into the arena and help spread the message that we are ready for a new, better world, the one that we deserve. There are more people who want change than don’t, but we don’t hold the power, they do. That is, until we come together collectively and ignore the rules that keep us tightly restricted. Like ripping off your tie and kicking off your heels, let’s collectively but respectfully shed the social norms that no longer serve us. I hope you might join me in going #nudeforchange.