Kim standing in leggings

Why I Choose To Wear Leggings And Whatever I Want

When a Christian woman claims she can’t wear leggings because it turns men on and dishonors her husband, I need to speak up for the other women on the planet who use the brains God gave us.

I won’t justify the article with a link to it.  It is written by a woman referring to herself as a Christian who wrote a blog post about her choice to not wear leggings thanks to her naughty husband after he admitted he looks at other women who wear leggings.  Somehow they got noticed and the couple were asked to appear on a major USA  morning T.V. show.

My friends over the pond must be spitting out their drinks right now.

The woman, whom I’ll call V, says she in no way is telling other women what to wear, and for that, I’m gracious enough to thank her.  She’s welcome to live her entire life in fear of people looking at her butt when she wears leggings.  She’s making this choice after realizing that when she wore “tight fitting leggings or yoga pants”, it “creates a stronger attraction for a man to look at a woman’s body and may cause them to think lustful thoughts.”

Stop right there.

For as far back as the days of Adam and Eve, and before that during the days of Atlantis, and oh heck, the days when Jesus walked the Earth, men with enough testosterone in their bodies looked at women’s bodies and sometimes had naughty thoughts.  In fact, when women wore clothing that hid their entire bodies during Victorian times men went absolutely beserk at the hint of an ankle.  In Jesus’s time, women wore flowing, body concealing robes and that never stopped them from attracting husbands or selling sex.

It suddenly occurred to V that what she wore was downright dangerous.

Was it possible my wearing leggings could cause a man, other than my husband, to think lustfully about my body? I asked my husband his thoughts on the matter when he got home. I appreciated his honesty when he told me, “yeah, when I walk into a place and there are women wearing yoga pants everywhere, it’s hard to not look. I try not to, but it’s not easy.”

So, thank you very much Husband of V.  It’s YOUR fault your wife can’t wear comfortable clothes and to get links and attention to her blog, she’s going to tell the entire world you are a horny bastard.

According to V, men are only allowed to look “that way” at their wife.  I can just imagine this same conversation with Moses and his wife after she could not bear him a child.  Not to mention all the women married to men with multiple wives.  Who, by the way, in some religious cultures and communes, never wear tight fitting clothes and have more babies than V has.

It’s not the clothes.

We wear what we wear for all kinds of reasons.  God had the good sense to give us the ability to choose good sense.  Some choices we make take courage.  Other choices teach us lessons, good and bad.  When a personal choice is based on fear, it is no longer a loving choice.  It is a control device.  When a personal choice is made that hurts someone else, it is a control device.

Most balanced relationships I know have a “look but don’t touch” policy and agreement with their partner.  It’s healthy. It indicates knowledge of human behavior and teaches us to trust.  Clearly, V doesn’t trust her husband and she has chosen to teach her daughter that Daddy is bad because he can’t control himself around women who wear leggings and yoga pants. V and her daughter have to be careful with what they wear or else Daddy or other men may think bad thoughts.

Not only is Daddy a terrible person for looking at a woman’s body other than mommy’s,  he belongs to the gender that can’t control their eyes, thoughts or actions.  So, once again, we have that bias against women that creates a culture where rape is the fault of the woman because she wore clothing that showed off her figure.

It’s not the clothes.

Ask women who walk the streets of any city listening to cat calls and vulgar language shouted out to them.  It’s disgusting but it would happen if she were wearing a bag on her head.  The attention has nothing to do with her and more to do with how men show off, compete and attempt to be the cool dude.

V shares,

If it is difficult for my husband who loves, honors, and respects me to keep his eyes focused ahead, then how much more difficult could it be for a man that may not have the same self-control?

So, what does this mean, exactly?

Is she saying that Husband of V should wear a collar with a leash and heel to her left side when with her and wear horse blinders when he goes anywhere without her?

For V, the issue is wearing tight fitting leggings and yoga pants.  I wear them often.  My daughter, when she starts teaching her yoga classes, will wear them to work.  When I ride horses, leggings are just as comfortable to wear, if not more so, that riding breeches, which by the way, can be tight fitting.  I wear them to the stable and then to lunch at the local cheap joint to grab lunch.

Not only am I wearing something lustful, but I smell like horse poop.

 

Single rose

Please Don’t Call Me a Rockstar

My first gut reaction when I see someone called a “Rockstar” in the online marketing and web design industries is to move on to something of substance.

I realize that most successful online marketers have egos the size of Mount Everest and prefer to associate with members of their own kind.  Not belonging to their club has been one of my weaknesses. In fact, my independence and not wanting to be part of a visible club has made me do odd things that make me cringe to this day, like the time at a conference where I begged someone I knew, kind of, to hang out with me because I desperately wanted to be away from the posse I was with. He didn’t understand my incoherent babbling and to this day keeps his distance.

I am not elegant.

Since returning to consulting, one of the interesting discoveries is what prospective clients tell me about how they found me.  One of them went on a national search for the right candidate and I was chosen because my references were consistent in what they pointed out as being the top reason to hire me, which is that I can be trusted.  I don’t take risks with any client and their privacy is guarded by my inner soldier.  I’m up front with every prospect who demands to see an example of my work.  They will not.  Every site audit I do is strictly confidential.

I know my stuff.

Rather than being labeled a guru or rockstar or whatever term is most often used to make people think you are the cream of the crop, I prefer to use my own name.  Whether I’m writing an epub, article, blog post, testing a site, writing up the report, preparing a proposal, even writing up an invoice, when I sign my name, it is with a sense of self confidence that my output is 100% heartfelt, honest work.

I’m not about getting rich.

At one marketing conference I sat in on a session for self employed web design and marketing folks.  We were told to increase our fee’s.  The speaker was loud and adamant that none of us were charging our clients enough money and we were told to, at the very least, double our hourly rates.

Apparently this advice was taken seriously because the bulk of my client work comes to me from companies who checked out the “rockstars” and were shocked at their prices.  The stories I hear cause me to swear like a pirate inside my head while gently trying to calm down the poor soul over the phone.  Like the guy who paid $10,000 per month for SEO services for a small business he ran, or the company paying $5000 for one link, to those who hire site designs for $10,000 that are nothing more than a WordPress template with slider.

What sets me apart is not fame and fortune.

I’m not saying that being recognized isn’t fun.  Like the time I was at a conference sitting at table mixed with friends and strangers and one of my friends, after we were all talking and sharing for awhile, told the woman sitting next to me who I was.  The poor startled woman nearly fell off her chair and squealed out my name, acting like I was a movie star.

What is less flattering is being asked for your opinion on a topic BECAUSE of status.  I prefer being invited to teach rather than predicting trends.  In fact, I’m more interested in the folks hidden behind the scenes digging into data, testing theories, and writing up research papers.  They are the gemstones in any industry, not the persons standing in front of weekly whiteboards, or re-hashing the same talks over and over again at the same conferences every year.

Nothing separates the classes of people like being told that one or more of a group is the important rockstar.  The message to everyone is that one of them is paid more than you are and even though you don’t know them, you must respect them because they are called a guru or rockstar.

I have been referred to as an “expert” and only recently, after nearly 20 years of working in usability, SEO and web design, started to relax around that term.  It’s hilarious to see people who have been around for a year or two called an expert.

When using the word “expert”, such as in a headline like  4 Ways SEO and UX Experts Can Work Together to Improve Web Development I can’t help but wonder why only the experts are expected to do the working together.  Why not everyone on projects?

I wish to be respected for my work and referred to by my name. 

And hired because I’ve earned your trust and faith in my expertise and ability to help you.

 

 

Son and mom

Marine Mom – Care and Feeding Your Recruit

Marine mom sleep is like having a newborn at home, where you wake every few hours to feed your child and cuddle.

The other night at about 3am I distinctly heard my son call out, “Mom!” as if he was in his bedroom right down the hallway.  For the next 10 minutes I analyzed the tone of his voice.  Was it fear?  Was he ordering me to stop worrying about him?  Is he awake?  Did I dream it?  It felt good to hear his voice, regardless.

I still haven’t slept an entire night since my Marine recruit left for 13 weeks of basic training.  Every night is the same, no matter what I’ve done during the daytime or what time I go to bed.  I fall asleep when my eyes can no longer stay open while reading a book and 2 hours later I wake up and remember my son is not here.  I fall asleep and 3 hours later I wake up and can’t go back to sleep.  It’s downhill from there.

Against the latest research that says we should not read from our mobile devices and Kindles before bed because the light from the monitors tells our brain to stay awake, I reach for my phone or Kindle at least twice during the middle of the night.  Even though there isn’t anything crazy interesting to read, I pass the minutes until I get sleepy again.  My side of the bed looks like I’m camping in a tent and reading from underneath the sheet with a flashlight on.

There are tools that parents of recruits use to help them cope.  The Marines are so organized and family friendly that there is constant access to information for every stage of boot camp.  We, the parents of the recruits now at boot camp, are instructed on what to say, write, wear and send. I read all of it.

I need to stay busy while my son is being yelled at, tested, picked on, sleep deprived, in pain, tired as hell and happy as he’s ever been in his life.  The other night I woke up at some quiet hour, as if it was time to nurse him when he was just a tiny person I could hold close to my heart.

Then, I went in search of the perfect stationary to write him his first letter.

honor2

Window Altars and Training a Marine Mom

They, the kind folks who run the U.S. Marines, make sure Marine mothers know exactly what their kid is doing everyday at boot camp. This is week one and I’m scared to death.

Okay, not really.  Stefan has prepared for this journey since he was in the third grade.  I was in denial until he was a senior in High School and then pretty much got used to the whole idea when he enlisted after he graduated. To prepare me he would bring home pamphlets in much the same way that some kids bring home stray kittens.

“Mom,” he’d say in his low man-voice, “Read these.”  And he would return later to be sure I did.

Another part of my training was to let him drive the car when we would run errands together.  While some parents are forced to tolerate the screaming raw vocals some call music, my son would play Marine Cadence’s and sing along, rocking his head like a 70’s rocker and drumming the steering wheel in time with the march. He recited Marine laws, customs, history, and told stories his buddies from boot camp shared with him.  He even hooked me up with the mom of one of his closest Marine friends.

One day he presented me with a window sticker for a car saying I’m a Marine Mom, but with strict orders to not use it until he really is.

I am a Marine Mom in Waiting.  Do they have a sticker or T-shirt for that?

honor1Today I decided to take down the electric candles placed in each window of our house for Christmas but in the two windows in my home office I left them and created window altars for him.  I placed some of my Native American stuff, crystals, items from his room and a few Marines things like one of this books and created two windows of light dedicated to him.

It’s still Week One and I’m finding my way.

Rally in ring

Get Back on The Horse

I was never a brave horse rider in my mind because for starters, once a fence went higher than 4 feet high, I lost my nerve to try and convince a horse to jump over it with me on its back.

When I was a teenager I was given a gray gelding named Nelson.  When my mother purchased him, he couldn’t clear a rail set up on two flipped over buckets.  But, he tried and he was cute and I liked him.  I worked with Nelson and my horse riding teacher and got him up to 2 feet, maybe more.  I must have felt brave enough to show him in a jumping class because one day I did and that pretty much ended my hunter jumper career.

On that hot summer weekend day, without warning at the very first jump in the course, Nelson stopped drop dead cold still in front of the fence and I flew over his head and landed on my feet planted together with the grace and dignity of a gymnastics professional directly facing his nose with my face.  The people watching the class gasped.  One of the judges was my trainer and she instructed me to get back on him and start again.

You always get back on the horse.

I did as I was asked and we managed to clear the first jump but I was so nervous and upset that one of my feet came out of a stirrup and rather than stop again, I continued the entire course with one leg in a stirrup and the one facing the judges was out but held in place.  I was much better at jumping bareback anyway.  The audience cheered and I left the ring, knowing I’d never get a ribbon and I don’t think I ever attempted to ride in a horse show ever again.

So why is it that about 30 years later, all I want to do is learn dressage and take a retired racehorse to horse shows?  What is WRONG with me?

 

Hatboro Marines and Navy

Marine Mom – Day One

We drove Stefan to the Marine and Air Force recruiting office in Hatboro, PA because his recruiter person had a sudden death in the family and was unable to provide transportation for my son, one of his recruits.

I know “recruiter person” is not the official term but I’m still getting the hang of Marines lingo and customs.  For example, when we got there, we being me, Stefan’s step-dad and step-brother, one man inside the office addressed me as “ma’am” for every question I had.

It was Sunday.  Usually on Sundays I go to the farm to see my favorite racehorses and do stable chores or sometimes go with my daughter to “celebration” at an inter-faith church near Doylestown.  This day was set aside for saying goodbye to my son for 3 months.  It is the longest separation I’ve ever had from him.

They, the folks who support Marines parents and families, provide us with advice on everything at every step of the way and what they don’t tell you, other parents will.  One suggestion from the Marines is to write a letter to your recruit for them to read on their flight to boot camp.

That Sunday morning I wrote him my letter.  The first rule I had for myself is to not cry or sound sappy.  I told him the story of his birth, which he’s heard before but this time I wrote it down and told him the truth.  I was not supposed to have any more children after his sister was born.  I nearly died in childbirth with her and ended up in ICU for 3 days.

There are several things I have in common with my son and one of them is that you can never tell us we can’t do something because if we believe we can, we will.

I trained myself mentally and physically to bring him here and was every bit successful.  It took courage, patience, stubborn will, no pain killers and teamwork with others willing to help me – the same qualities he will need as a Marine in training.  That’s what I wrote him.

Every mother of a Marine has her own understanding of what makes her child want to be a Marine.  I’m still getting used to the idea and may never truly come to knowing what motivates him so strongly.  I do know he has the warrior spirit honestly and genuinely.

To keep myself together, I need to remember I have it too.

 

Horse face

Dream Horse

Everytime I closed my eyes, I saw his face looking at me. Even after the week when I first met him, he would appear in my dreams and when I awoke his dark nose with the jagged white stripe running down towards his soft muzzle was there staring back at me.

I grew up with horses. From the time my mother felt it was safe enough, I rode horses. She rode horses too, until she married my dad in 1956 and started her new course in life as young mother of two girls. In 1960, I was two years old and my parents had purchased their first house in the suburbs outside Philadelphia. It was a huge 3 bedroom home with a striking front porch supported with thick tall roman-like pillars. It’s white siding was enhanced with black shutters and the driveway boasted a Chevy that Dad used to get to his job as an electronics engineer.

After several years living there, my mother found a job giving riding lessons at a large riding stable located in a nearby park. By the third grade, I’d decided I was an expert horsewoman. I wrote a story for school about how baby horses leave their mothers when they are ten years old and they cry. I described how they ate straw and slept on hay. I’d take tracing paper and place pages over books with illustrations of horses and draw them, hour after hour. I dreamed of having my own horse. It seemed perfectly logical that Santa Clause would leave a pony on our big front porch.

By 1967 mom had owned two horses that were boarded on local farms and she was giving riding lessons at a fine horse stable where a local rider was a hunter jumper champion and our lesson horses were of finer breeding and skills. My sister and I always got free lessons thanks to mom and by the time we moved to our own small horse farm in 1968 I participated in a few horse shows.

I was scared to death.

In fact, as the years went by and my opportunities to show were plentiful and grand, I froze in the ring and concluded I was happier as a groom.

Life happened to me, same as it did for mom. My life journey didn’t include horses after age 24 and by age 30 I was married and as far away from horses as could be. All that was left were pictures and memories. And stories of a time that seemed make believe. I always knew I was lucky to grow up with horses. My gray gelding, Nelson, was my confidant and best friend. As a teenager I spent untold hours on his back riding in the surrounding countryside just Being.

And yet, there is a new face staring at me. His is a dark chestnut face with the most incredible slanted black eyes I’ve ever seen on a horse. I realize I love this horse and it terrifies me because he is not mine, nor can he be.

His name is Quiet Rally and I think he picked me for a reason.

The kids

The Magic of Hippie Dust

I marvel that I have two very different offspring.  One, a earthy natural living healing organic woman and the other competitive, all around sportsman, and future US Marine.

The almost Marine made the decision to step up and serve his country after September 11 happened.  He was in the third grade.  One fourth of his graduating class in High School joined a branch of service.  I raised him the best way an earth mother could.   From birth, he made his own choices.  He refused bottles, so I was his main food source.  He could skate and roller blade before he could walk.  He was a champion weight lifter, star baseball pitcher and popular football and soccer player.  He laughs.  When he is not pushing his body to new endurance levels, he is laughing.  His heart is as big as mine.  What he does with his life is not my first choice, as a peace-nik.  I will worry and pray and meditate for his protection.  And be intensely proud.

The kidsThe firstborn was ruined by me.  I nursed her too.  I found a doctor who would not vaccinate her until I decided it was time to inject an infant body with poison.  I made her food every day from only organic ingredients.  She was given chiropractic adjustments as a toddler.  My 100 square foot garden behind our townhouse (I was the only homeowner to turn a backyard into a source for food) was where she learned about bugs, vegetables and picking beans.  She played soccer and hockey and when dumped by a boyfriend who asked her to a prom, went by herself anyway.  I gladly paid for that dress.  She is training to become a healer, eats organic and is a spiritual seeker on a path to owning her own business devoted to helping people live healthy lives.  I’m intensely proud.

If You Knew Me

That these two miracles of joy, determination, no drugs/drinking, healthy living came from me is amazing.  I was not like them when I was growing up.  I was lost every day.  Every day hurt.  Every. Day.

I carry deep seated wounds that I wrestle with, but as time goes on, and I learn to let go, the nightmares are rare and the fear is manageable.  I am angry every day.  It is my cross to bear.  So how did I raise two children to not make the mistakes I did?  For starters, I chose a great father to them.  Even when we divorced we co-parented and were dedicated parents.  Then, I gave them a great step-dad and their Dad gave them a great step-mom.  It took 4 people, who agreed on peaceful relationships, open communication, parental involvement in school and sports and good worth ethics to do it.  We paid for their college studies.  We sacrificed and went into debt.

Of the 4, I am the hippie.

Of the 4, I am the one who surrounds herself with crystals, sage, Native American artifacts and old 60’s and 70’s records.

Of the 4, I have my own business.  Which has had ups and downs.  I keep going.

Of the 4, I marvel the most.  I think too much.  I watch the present through a lens of bad memories and terrible choices.  I was convinced I was not worthy of being loved.

And needed to be sure I could prove it.

What sustains me is hippie dust.  It’s a magical force that has lived within me, before Woodstock happened, but solidified because it did.

I still hear the music.

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I wrote “I Was Sprinkled with Hippie Dust” for Medium.