January 29, 2015

The REAL Issue With Leggings Isn't the Leggings.

I wasn't going to comment on this, not here at least, but I kept seeing posts about it, reading the original blog, had a discussion with my husband, and having friends message me about it, so I figured, why not. I mean, I ALWAYS have an opinion, and this is right up my alley. This will probably be the most controversial post you'll ever get from here in this space.

If you've been living in a social media black hole for the past few days (which is possible. I know a shocking number of people who don't have facebook) then you have may have missed the post by Veronica Partridge, a Pastors wife from Oregon. The post, "Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings" has been shared almost 100,000 times across social media platforms. You can find the original post here, and her follow up post here.

If you don't feel like reading, here is the short version of the story: Veronica liked to wear leggings, leggings cause lustful thoughts in men (her husband included), so therefore, no more leggings or yoga pants in public.

Seems pretty ridiculous, right?

I won't touch on the religious aspect of this, because her beliefs are just that -- hers. I don't agree, and I really don't think God has any opinion on leggings or yoga pants or ANY type of clothing for that matter, but we don't exactly have a relationship, and so therefore that's all I will say on the matter. However, what struck me the most, aside from the complete asinine premise of this whole notion, is this particular statement:

I also want to set the best example of how to dress for my daughter. I want her to know, her value is not in the way her body looks or how she dresses, but in the character and personality God has given her.

OK, so does anybody else see how incredibly contradictory that statement is, when compared to the actions that she is deciding to take? Here's the thing -- by telling your daughter that she shouldn't wear something because somebody might look at her and think that she is beautiful, or looks nice because of an outfit choice she decided to make on one particular day, she is telling her daughter that her character is NOT the most important thing, that her looks are the forefront of what every man  thinks, and that her personality will never come first.

What I have been saying to friends & my husband (who, man I love him, agrees with me 100%) is that it is not our responsibility as woman to try and control the thoughts of men. We, as humans, are sexual beings. It's in our nature. Our DNA. We are put here on Earth by whatever force or being you believe in, to do great things. But we also have a NATURAL, sexual drive within us. And it's OK. There is nothing wrong with that. I do not understand this mentality of shutting out this natural THING within us.  When it comes down to it, it's always going to be more than leggings or yoga pants. Men are visual creatures, are they not? I mean, that's a pretty basic fact I'm sure we are all aware of. If a guy wants to sneak a peek as he's walking by, he wouldn't be the first. I'm not going to lie, I rock the HELL out of some yoga pants basically every single day of my life. In fact, I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on a new pair because ohmygosh they are insanely comfortable. I also stay at home, with two small kids, and comfort when rolling around on the ground and chasing them down the hallway is of the utmost importance. Yes -- they get worn out in public, and yes, I know that my husband happens to like my booty in yoga pants. And probably leggings if I ever wore them. But it goes both ways -- does she never leave the house? Never make eye contact with any other individual who isn't a woman? Never watch movies? I bet she would be lying if she said she never saw Channing Tatum without his shirt and thought "daaaaaamn."

But all jokes aside, where do we stop? Should we as women stop wearing low cut shirts? Or even form-fitting shirts in general? What about tight jeans (which you will notice in the original posts, the author has ZERO problems wearing jeans that are basically as tight as the leggings I'm sure she wears. Even though she states in her follow-up it's not the same). Should we stop wearing makeup because it makes us feel pretty? Or stop doing our hair? Or wearing bathing suits? Or dressing, in general, to what we feel makes us look good? There are people out there who find ALL of these things attractive -- so where do we stop? Because you can't pick ONE item, one thing that you think is the only thing that makes you attractive to others, and then decide to not wear it anymore. Well, I mean, you can. But not without examining all other aspects of the conversation.

When we push this line of thinking all the way to the extreme, we very quickly find that this is why countries, religion, men force the women of their culture to wear burqas or hijabs in public. 100% coverage when you could possibly be around other men. So obviously this would stop the sexualization and "lusting," correct? Wrong. Women are still taken advantage of. They are still seen as objects. Rape. Still. Happens.

So how about this. WHAT IF, instead of shaming women (even though that was not her intention) for wearing clothing that makes them feel good, or is comfortable, we have a discussion about what we are teaching men. WHAT IF, we all worked on raising our boys to the best of our ability. Let's TEACH THEM
that it is not our responsibility as women to change our behavior because a man may decide to take advantage of the way we look, or act. It IS our responsibility to teach our children (boys AND girls) to respect others. To treat them kindly. That women (and men) are not objects, but that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of sexuality, either. And that's all I see here in her posts, that instead of teaching children responsibility, we are teaching them to close the door to a natural part of being HUMAN. I can only hope that I raise my two boys to be respectful of the women around them, and I am so grateful that I have a husband who also truly believes that mentality. It's way past time for women to stop apologizing for the things that they wear, for feeling and being attractive, and in general, just being themselves. It's also way past time that we hold men responsible for their own actions. I know our family will do the best we can to raise our boys right.

THIS is the discussion that needs to be happening in our culture right now. Not whether leggings or yoga pants are inappropriate. Because when you raise respectful young men, then having to worry about what you wear doesn't matter.

Prague, Czech Republic

Last November (ugh, I know), the family and I took off to Praque for a long weekend. We had a few days before M had to leave for another work trip, so we booked a hotel and made the four hour drive East to the Czech Republic!

What a BEAUTIFUL city.

Praque has, for the longest time, been a dream destination for me. There is something so fascinating about Eastern European culture, and the photos I had seen through the years were always so amazingly beautiful. I was excited to pack up and head over, exploring as much of the city as I could (and as two small children and a husband would allow!) The people were nice, loved kids (much different than Germany!) the food was excellent and the beer was great.

I was not disappointed, but I also have to say that two and a half days was not nearly enough time to see everything that I wanted to see. The city is large, and while we did see a great deal, we didn't see it all. But all that means is that a trip back is most definitely in order.

We stayed at a hotel about a mile from Old Town. We most likely could have stayed closer (well, yes -- we could have) but parking was a big thing for us, as we had heard multiple times that car theft was a big deal there. In an attempt to play it "better safe than sorry" we chose a hotel with a secure parking garage. Also, as it was our first overnight trip out of town, we weren't ready to tackle apartment living for a weekend! (We have since changed our minds about that!). It meant a little bit of a walk to see the things we wanted to see, but it also meant burning off the calories from all that yummy food!  The weather was a bit gloomy (as you can see from the photos) but not cold. We were able to walk around without jackets for the most part, which was nice. I would love to get back during the Spring when the weather is a little better, and get some prettier photos!

Charles Bridge. The Palace. Old Town. There were so many amazing things. Traveling with two small kids provides it's own challenges, but the kids were troopers being out and about most of the day in the stroller or carrier. On our way back down from the palace, we found these ahhhhmazing treats called Chimney Cakes and oooh man, you guys. I need to find these again because they were doughy, cinnamony, sugary goodness. Fresh off the oven that they cook them on, it was an awesome snack on our way back down the hill. 

Prague offers so many museums as well, another reason I want to get back. The Czech Republic has such a amazing history, and in the grand scheme of things hasn't been a democratic country for very long. But the people truly were amazing and helpful. I look forward to getting back before our time here is up!

January 12, 2015

Germany: Six Months

The beginning of January marked our six month anniversary of being in Germany. Whoa! It's hard to believe that we have been here that long, but at that the same time it feels like we have been here forever. Or forever-ish.

I have a feeling I will say this often, but I am so happy to be here. We have done so many amazing things in such a short amount of time, and have learned so much just from being here. Our kids are growing up in such a wonderful environment, and I cannot wait for what's to come our time here. We have been so lucky to have seen as much as have! 

I will admit, though, it doesn't quite feel like home yet. We are still in shambles in spots of our home (old dresser for a TV stand, anyone? A few lingering boxes hanging out in the laundry room?) but as time goes on, we are making an effort to make this space more "ours." New bookshelves for books and photo frames. Family photos up on the wall. Plants that I haven't managed to kill just yet (don 't worry. Give it time.) All the little things that add up. But we are getting there, and will continue to make momentum, AND, just as we are leaving we will say "this place finally feels like home." Ha!

We haven't been without our fair share of small (and I mean teeny-tiny) hurdles to overcome. Services here are lacking just a tad. Daycare for Lucas? A nightmare. Even getting him into a preschool on the German economy has been difficult. We make do, though, and I am grateful for the amazing babysitter we have. Also? Stairwell living? NOT for the faint of heart. We have been lucky in that most of our neighbors are awesome, but there is always one, ya know, who makes life difficult.

I will admit, though, that even with it still very much feeling like a vacation at times, there are very few things I miss about being back in the states. Don't get me wrong, I definitely miss some things -- a garbage disposal, having our own house/yard, easy access to my BFF that doesn't require a nine hour time difference, football at normal hours of the day, drive through (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, STARBUCKS) -- but overall this experience has been wonderful. CHALLENGING. But wonderful. It's simply amazing to me all the opportunity that has been provided to us since we have been here. We have been to France twice. Spent five days in Paris. We have seen Prague, Salzburg (Austria) and Luxembourg. The husband has traveled to a couple of places on his own for work, and we get to have discussions about places like Israel and Spain in the near future. Not to mention that the Stuttgart area is simply gorgeous with so much to offer that we didn't have available back in North Carolina. The introvert in me has been slowly but surely making some new friends, and the kids are having this amazing opportunity to grow up in a culture that is so different than it would be back home in the states. Our views and beliefs mesh so well with the culture of Germany, and Europe in general, and we love having this amazing opportunity. And the food? Oh man. The food alone is worth being here! (And maybe the beer. And the wine.)

We miss our friends & family like crazy, and I would at times like to hear some music on the radio that *isn't* Top 40. Ahem. But, you know, sacrifices. I am looking forward to 2015 in so many ways. We live in an amazingly beautiful area of this country, and we cannot wait to explore more in the coming months! The cold, wet weather doesn't keep us from getting out too much, but I am definitely looking forward to Spring & Summer just a tad!

January 8, 2015

Happy New Year!

I know we are a good week into the new year, and I know I haven't exactly put much down in the last two month (eeek!) but ... new year, new goals, right? Big priority? More writing.

The reason for the radio silence is just plain exhaustion mixed with a busy schedule! Oh, and the holidays always throw a giant wrench into any sort of stability, am I right? Then, there is also the giant writers block that has been looming over my head. I have had plenty of ideas and topics that I have been wanting to get down, but they either seem to extensive to finish, or not appropriate for this space. This is something I am working on. But regardless, it's been a great two months. I have so many posts to catch up on, including our travel adventures (Prague! Austria! PARIS!) and I am looking forward to actually getting some words on paper. Or, you know -- this space here!

But -- Happy New Year! I cannot believe that 2015 is already upon us. 2014 was a long, difficult year for us, for many reasons, so I know for certain that we are looking forward to a new beginning and a fresh start. I stopped making tangible resolutions sometime ago, but as in years past, I do want to continue to work on being a better, more positive and uplifting person as this year carries on, and to be more compassionate overall to those around me & in my life. I've taken a step back from some of my social media interactions, for the simple fact that it's sad to see so much animosity and downright hatred towards perfect strangers on so many different forums. Our society hides behind the walls of our computer screens, and as a result, we are so quick to attack others for things we don't agree with, or simply don't like. Compassion seems to be a thing of the past, and a true skill that I don't see many people in this world possessing anymore.

How much energy does it take to spew all that hatred in the form of words, when it would be easier to just ignore, walk away, block or unfollow? All that negativity -- it brings me down, man. (For the record, this isn't about anybody in particular. Just a trend I have been seeing. I mean, have you read the comments section of ANY news article lately? Stay. Away. From the comments. Always!) This is my mantra for 2015. You cannot have a positive life, living with a negative frame of mind. So whose with me?? Change your attitude, and I promise you will see a change to your life.

Aside from this, I have big plans for this year. More time for myself. Less guilt for doing so. A mission to be more creative on a more regular basis. Taking my business to the top. Being a better wife, a better mother, a better friend to those who have been good to me. Surrounding myself with more good than I know what to do with. Travel, travel, travel! Overall -- making this year simply amazing. What are your goals? Your plans? Are you a resolution maker? Or do you just try to live a certain frame of mind?