Gucci blackface jumper, Prada monkey keyring, Liam Neeson – are we over-reacting or is the outrage valid?

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As we see another major brand name ‘Gucci’ create an item of clothing that resembles blackface, it raises many questions for me. One being how this item ever got from the thought process through the design process to being made available to buy? The amount of people who must have been part of that process who never thought there was an issue is concerning. This also comes not long after Prada released a keyring that again resembled blackface. 5c13caa6404f4d1210586e7e-750-562But, maybe you don’t see a problem with the jumper or the keyring, or with the recent statement made by Liam Neeson. Maybe you think the uproar is completely uncalled for.

Are we over reacting or is the outrage valid? Personally  I can never understand what it feels like to be another race or ethnicity. I can only understand what it feels like to be me, mixed race white & Asian, with a White British mother and a Pakistani father. I can empathise with others, but I can never truly understand. If I can’t understand what it’s like, then I certainly can’t tell people what they should be offended by!

We know we have a narrative in our society that paints certain races and ethnicities in certain ways. That history taught us that people like Christopher Columbus or Winston Churchill were great men, and maybe they were, maybe they did achieve greatness, but I know my history lessons did not tell me the whole truth. It’s only now as an adult that I know and understand that they were not as great as I had been taught that they were, click their names to read more about them if you don’t believe me. I know that the media and government tells us how to think and that sinks into our subconscious. This then becomes the narrative that shapes and forms our opinions.

I believe that racism is learned behaviour, that its basis lies in ignorance and that it can be unlearned. I know that I have experienced racism myself from people of different races including white and Pakistani. Maybe you have experienced if yourself? I am sure that all of us at some point in our life have thought or said something which was based on race and could be deemed racist. But more than likely this is because we have been taught to think these things based on stereotypes, a media agenda and being ignorant of all the facts.

For me, trying to tell a person how to feel about something they feel is racist, when you are not the same race or ethnicity as them, just doesn’t make sense. You have no idea what they have experienced, you have no idea how racism affects them on a daily basis, you can empathise but please don’t tell people how they should feel. Be aware of what is taking place in the world, that institutionalised racism exists and is very real, that white privilege is alive and kicking. I know that’s hard to take in for some, especially for those who don’t experience it but don’t tell those that do experience it that it’s not real. It’s real and its everywhere you look – its in our history books, it’s in our fashion industry, it’s in our business board rooms, it’s in our houses of parliament, it’s in our streets, it’s in our schools.

No person living in 2019 should be at a disadvantage because of the colour of their skin, beaten up because of their race or ethnicity or be deemed not suitable for a job opportunity because of their skin colour. It still blows my mind that anyone ever thought they were better than anyone because of the colour of their skin. I can never get my head around it and I know that I have my mum to thank for bringing me up in a way to accept all people. I am grateful that I grew up in a multi-cultural area and was taught to stand up against racism. I was taught to be loving and accepting of others. I am teaching my own children the same thing while having to unlearn some of the racial narrative I have grown up with from school and the media.

So you may feel that Gucci, Prada, Liam Neeson’s past confession never meant any harm, that they never intended to be racist BUT you cannot make that sweeping statement for everyone. Ask yourself how so many people in Gucci and Prada never questioned their design?  There are people who are offended by these things and there are people who agree that they have been discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity.

I have seen some really good explanations about Liam Neeson and do think we need to give him credit for admitting he was wrong for what he thought and did. I think people are being too hard on him for how he used to think but again this is an example of what I am saying – that racism can be unlearned!

What do you have to unlearn or learn today to know that racism exists, racism is wrong & we should all be doing our bit to stand up against it? Maybe it’s time to stop keeping quiet about things and actually using our voices to speak up for those who feel discriminated against on a daily basis.

For me, I want to keep pushing on to be who God created me to be and I am sure that includes loving and accepting people no matter what.

Love, Amber xx

 

I’m a Christian, I never said I was perfect!

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I know when I tell people I’m a Christian, that they jump to all kinds of conclusions. I have had people judge me based on my faith, often putting me under a microscope because I call myself a Christ follower. I know that some people think for some reason, that I think I am better than them because I have chosen to follow God. Some people even think that I think I am perfect, which is so far from the truth! It spurred me to put how this makes me feel into words, which are expressed here.

I’m a Christian.

I’m not perfect.

I’m a human being.

I’m a Christian because I’ve recognised my weakness, my failures, my flaws & the mess I’ve made of my life.

I’ve made mistakes, I still do.

I’ve got things wrong, I still do.

I’ve lost my temper, I still do.

I’ve said hurtful things, I still do.

I still have days where I regret things I’ve done or said.

I still have days where I wish my life had been different.

I still have days where I wish I had made better choices.

As hard as it is to say, I still have days where I think would the world be better off without me, where I wish my suicide attempts had been successful.

Being a Christian does not mean I think I’m perfect.

Being a Christian now seems to put me under more scrutiny.

Being a Christian seems to make people search for and point out my imperfections.

Being a Christian means I’ve lost friends.

Being a Christian means I have gained some deep meaningful friendships.

Being a Christian does not mean I think I am better than you.

I now have more days filled with hope and meaning.

I now have more days where I wake up, glad to be alive.

I now have more days where I am grateful for the journey God has taken me on.

I now have more days where I am thankful I was able to make better choices.

I’m a Christian because I need God.

I’m a Christian because when I was in charge of my life, I made a mess of it.

I’m a Christian because I am far from perfect.

I’m a Christian because I want a better life, I want to be a better person.

I’m a Christian because I need forgiveness, I need grace, I need mercy & I need love.

I’m a human being.

I’m not perfect.

I’m a Christian.

I’m a Christian, I never said I was perfect!

So, before you judge me from my title as a Christian, ask yourself what harm am I doing to you by having a faith?

I’m going to keep pressing on to be who God has created me to be, are you?

Love,

Amber

x

Photo by Jonathan Hoxmark on Unsplash

Will a change of year really make any difference to you? I chose wholeness as my aim for the year, read my reflections on how that worked out.

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For the past few years I have tried to choose a word that I was going to set as a goal in my life that year. This year’s word was Wholeness. I started the year with a desire to learn what that meant for my life.

The dictionary definition of the word Wholeness is:

  • the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity.
  • the state of being unbroken or undamaged.

Now, looking back, do I feel I have achieved a level of Wholeness based on the definitions I have just given? The simple answer is no. Circumstances that have occurred this year have broken and damaged me so much.

The definition given by the Merriam Webster dictionary is:

A : free of wound or injury: UNHURT; recovered from a wound or injury: RESTORED; being healed

B: free of defect or impairment: INTACT

C: physically sound and healthy: free of disease or deformity

D: mentally or emotionally sound

Using the above definitions, I could say I have achieved a level of wholeness this year. I am in a state of recovering from physical injuries. Through all the hurt that has occurred this year there has been a level of healing taking place. I am free from defect or impairment, I am free of disease and deformity. I would like to think I am mentally sound and, on the way, to being emotionally sound.

I need to be honest with you, I started out the year with good intentions of letting this desire for wholeness be my focus, but it got lost along the way among the trials of life. I would say that while I desired wholeness I probably had one of the worst years of my life. But as I reflect, maybe that was part of my journey to being whole?

The bible talks about God taking us through a process of pruning, where he removes parts of your life that aren’t good for you or aren’t fruitful. This process can be painful as friends, family, jobs, material things, opportunities are removed from your life. At the time it can be so confusing but looking back you can see it was for the best. This has been part of my journey this year.

The way we measure how much we’ve changed, can also depend on the definitions we compare them to, as you can see from the above definitions I used. If you use other people’s definitions of how you’ve changed, you could end up feeling pretty negative. If you measure yourself up to how the media say we should be living I can imagine, again, you will feel pretty disappointed. But if you use what God says about you and the plans he has for you in his word, I can guarantee that you will feel hopeful, loved and accepted.

I don’t believe that God is held back by human definitions, but as I sit reflecting on my word for the year, it has helped me see how far I have come, how some of that pruning was for the best. I believe that having some goals or a word for the year is a wonderful way to measure the improvement in your life. I would hope that every year of your life you are striving to be a better person, striving to be the best you can be, and I don’t believe you can do that without having goals or ways to measure how you are doing.

One of the most wonderful things about being a follower of Christ, a disciple, is knowing that I am in a process of sanctification. A process of being made or becoming holy. … To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.” God is constantly guiding and shaping me to be the best I can be.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

 

I don’t believe that a change of date or year is going to change anything in your life apart from the date and year. If you want real change in your life, then you need something that is much bigger than you. I believe that real change can only come from having a relationship with God. I don’t want to pass through this life living for the moment, but live a life of abundance, to live life to its fullest!

What goals are you going to set for the next year?

What changes are you going to make to be who you were called to be?

What will be your word for 2019?

Let’s keep pressing on to be who God created us to be!

Love

Amber

x

 

 

Christmas, that time of year I am looking forward to but at the same time can’t wait for it to be over!

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Christmas To Do List: (in no particular order)

Put all my daughters’ school Christmas activity in my diary so I don’t miss anything

Buy my daughter a Christmas jumper to wear for school – forget to send the £1 donation in

Book tickets for school Christmas Sing Along

Pay for School Christmas Elf Markets

Check budget

Book time off work for School brass band concert

Cancel time off work for School Brass band concert as dad & nana are going

Be at church for school Christingle service

Get tree out of shed – find a day it’s not raining to do this!

Put tree up after sitting in the living room in the box for 4 days

Make paper snowflakes as a fun activity to do with my daughter, to create a winter wonderland

Put paper snowflakes up a week after they have sat on the living room floor

Start waking up 20 minutes earlier in the morning to work out (n the hope of losing some weight)

Think of stuff for the elves to do – the elves, aaaaagghhh!!!

Send elves away to the North Pole as you have had enough – good riddance!

Ask daughter for her Christmas list – Shudder inside every time you hear her add something else to the list each time someone’s asks

Check budget

Write Christmas cards

Send Christmas cards

Book Christmas Day meal out rather than cooking

Cancel Christmas meal out as on reflection it’s just too expensive

Plan Christmas Day meal

Clean house in preparation for having people over

Source additional chairs for people to sit on

Find a babysitter for works Christmas meal out

Attend works Christmas meal out

Visit Christmas Markets with the family so we can spend £5 on a hot chocolate

Check budget

Wear Christmas Jumper on Christmas Jumper Day at work

Decide what you are going to wear on Christmas day that actually fits you

Decide you also need to go on a diet until Christmas day, so then you can eat what you like

Check budget

How does your list look? Now I am not moaning, most of the above is just standard stuff we have to think about at this time of year, especially as a mum. But why do we insist on making so much work for ourselves? Over complicating things? We can get so caught up in all these activities that we forget what Christmas is all about.

I look forward to Christmas, because of what it means for me,  as a Christian, it is a time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus wasn’t actually born on the 25th December but over time this tradition was created as a symbolic time. A time to be thankful for what God has done in my life. A time to truly think about what’s important in life.

But there’s a part of me that can’t wait for Christmas to be over. A part of me that doesn’t like the commercialisation of it, the busyness, the expectation, the cost, the running round, the awareness of the brokenness of family structures and family relationships, the trying to please everyone or the fact that Jesus is not the reason many celebrate Christmas.

But actually, Christmas is not about how much money we can spend or how much food we can eat, although we probably do far too much of both of those things, its about love. It’s about the fact that God sent Jesus to be born as a human being as part of his plan for salvation, to save us from harm, ruin, or loss. It was part of his plan for my life and for your life.

John 3:16-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Try to remember that while you’re in this season. Try to remember that your children don’t need you to spend all that money for you to show them you love them. Try to remember that you love those people who are round on Christmas day when that argument breaks out. Try to remember those less fortunate than you and spread some love to them too. Try to be kind to yourself and extend that love to yourself. And most importantly remember that God loves you and he does have a plan for your life, all you have to do is reach out to him and invite him into your home this Christmas. Let this Christmas be about more than gifts and food, among the busyness of your to do list, find time to reflect on what’s truly important in life.

Merry Christmas.

Love,

Amber

x

So, the other day, I had to ask my boyfriend how to shave my face…….

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Yes, you read that correctly. I actually did have to ask my boyfriend how to shave my face! You are probably thinking why?????? The reason is that I have started a course of laser hair removal on my face and in between sessions I need to shave the hair. This is not a normal activity for me and therefore I am not 100% sure of how to shave my face!!

Let me take you back, since I was young, I have had hair in places that I don’t really want to have hair in. I remember being in high school and absolutely hating the dark, long hair that grew on my forearms – so I shaved it off! My mum and other adults told me that I shouldn’t do this as it would grow back thicker and darker. I thought, ‘I actually don’t care, I just want it off me!’ The hair didn’t grow back thicker or darker, so they were wrong, but I wouldn’t advise this method of removal for arm hair.

Another area unwanted hair grew, was on my face, particularly on my top lip, this hair I hated!! Boys would often point it out, like I had chosen to grow a moustache on my face…….get real!

My mum advised bleaching the hair and introduced me to Jolene. Anyone who has used this knows about the smell! Using Jolene, I had to mix it into a paste and cover the hair I wanted to bleach, then sit and wait for it to work. It did work but then one day, a lad pointed out that I had a blonde moustache, great! Being a teen girl and dealing with this facial hair was tough in those days. I mean this was before we were that bothered about make up or getting our eyebrows done but facial hair was a big no, no.

As I got older, I discovered tweezers and plucked any excess hair off as quickly as I could find it. Looking back at my eyebrows in those plucking days, I looked like I had plucked far too much. They were not in a great shape!

Then I was introduced to threading, finally, a way to get rid of all this excess facial hair and have amazing eyebrows! If you’re from Manchester, then you will probably have visited or at least heard of Maryams Beauty Box  – my eyebrows had never looked so good after a visit to her and my face was as smooth as a babies bottom.

This may sound sad to you, but it is actually on my bucket list, to get rid of this hair using laser hair removal. For some women, this may either not be an issue or they are not bothered about excess hair. I guess it’s a personal preference and personally I will be glad when it’s gone! But don’t body shame women about this kind of stuff, we don’t choose where hair grows on us and it can be difficult to manage. Looking back I think a lot of my frustrations with my hair was linked to my identity. My father is Pakistani and I didn’t grow up with him in my life, this affected me in many ways but I think it definitely affected the way I viewed myself. That’s a story for another day……

So, roll on to 2018, I’ve finally taken the step to undergo laser hair removal. I am hoping this will be a more permanent form of hair removal and I can finally say good bye to my moustache and chin hair. I always thought laser hair removal was too expensive but not with the deals you can find on Groupon, its much more affordable. I have had one session and need to leave 8-10 weeks in between sessions, until then I need to keep on shaving with the help of my fella.

At my age I am able to be open and talk about this, I know when I was younger this was not so easy. I hope that by being honest in areas like this it takes away the embarrassment from young girls, that actually most women will go through this or some form of body issue. We need to find a way to be happy with our bodies, while also taking care of them. I encourage young women to find a way to accept how we were created in my video How to look beautiful with no make up on  But I also understand that most of us have our hang ups and there are some things we can do to make ourselves feel more comfortable in our skin.

I will update you on how the process goes, in the meantime let’s keep pressing on to be who God created us to be!

Love

Amber

x

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How Audible saved me from hours of wasted time!

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Well the title of my blog might be a bit dramatic, but it certainly has had a massively positive impact on my life! In actual fact I love my audible app.

Audible is an Amazon app for listening to audio books. I have it on my phone and use it mainly in the car, on the commutes to work.

I have been a book lover for years, I can’t even tell you how many books I have read – no I actually can’t because my memory is so bad! But I love reading. Being a single parent, working two jobs and just generally being on the go for most of the time, I don’t always have time to sit down and read like I used to. Reading at bedtime used to be the shout for me but more often than not I am too shattered to do that these days.

When I was an at home mum, I would love sitting in the garden during the summer and just reading book after book – in between the school runs and nap times of course! Summer days are few and far between now and I don’t have all that free time with my employment.

So, the number of books I was reading was rapidly dwindling! I had to think of other options and I remember a few friends saying they would listen to books on the drive to work. So, I signed up to the free 30-day trial with Audible.

My first book to listen to was The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis. What an amazing book! Probably one of my favourite books. So that was it, I was hooked. I signed up and receive my one credit a month for my monthly subscription price of £7.99.

It has made driving so much more fun. I rarely get frustrated when sitting in traffic, especially if it’s a really good book I am listening to. I actually don’t mind how long my journeys take on those occasions.

It has helped bring back my love for books and forced me to make more time for reading. Nothing beats a real book though.

I also love being efficient and making the best use of my time, so what better use of the time sat in a car than to be listening to a great book? I often envy those on public transport because you can sit and read in those circumstances, ensuring its not a wasted journey.

Granted I can’t listen to my book when I have passengers, I have been given some odd looks when this has happened. Especially when I was listening to The Handmaid’s Tale and that came on when my boyfriend got in the car! It sounded very random.

Most of the books I have listened to have been really good, but I have listened to some poor ones too. These remain unread in my library and a waste of a credit really. They can be poor sometimes because the narrator is just not someone I can listen to for hours or simply because its not a great book. I try to choose books that are going to enhance my life and expand my mind. But overall, its been a great addition to my life and I would thoroughly recommend signing up.

What book are you listening to? Can you recommend any really good ones?? You can join me on Goodreads to see what books I have been reading. Drop me a comment or a message and help me fill my audible library with great books!

Let’s press on and be who God created us to be!

Love,

Amber

x

I’ve got a lot to say and need to find a way to say it!

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I’ve considered writing a blog many times, but I don’t think I’m that great at writing, particularly writing that requires you to use your imagination! But when researching how to write a blog, I figured if I am writing about my real life then there isn’t much requirement for me to use my imagination, so here goes!

So why? Recently I have felt this real frustration that I have so much to say but just don’t know how to say it. I am a fairly vocal person and those of you who know me, will know that I started my YouTube channel this year – Chronicles of Amber. This was a great way to really focus on issues around my faith and being on the journey of being a disciple of Christ.

I was really enjoying the Vogging via YouTube and persevered through some tough times. The editing and uploading of the vlogs actually took up most of my time, sometimes these took a ridiculous amount of time!

Then I hit a really tough part of life, that maybe I might explain, but that’s for another time – far away in the future. It really knocked my confidence and I took a month break away from social media completely, including my vlogging. That month was so refreshing! You must try it, I think we underestimate the impact time spent on social media can have on us.

I have, slowly, returned to social media but I have yet to pick up the vlogging……there seems to be a block there that I can’t get past. I know time is a healer and when the time is right I hope to return to it but until then this seems to be a good way to communicate with you.

So who? For those that don’t know me, I’m Amber. I am a mother of two children, who you will no doubt get to know through my blogs. I work as an Office and Events Manager for a Christian Charity (I love my job!!!!) and I am a Christian myself. I’ve lived a colourful life to say the least and I strongly feel that those life experiences are opportunities to share and help others on this journey of life.

I have been through some stuff, much of it caused by decisions I have made in life, but I refuse to let any of that be wasted by keeping silent about it. If what I have been through can help even one person from making terrible life choices, then that will bring me joy and will have all been worth it! I know there is value in each and every one of us, that there is a purpose and a plan for our lives, it just takes some time sometimes to see that. I feel called to empower, encourage and inspire others to be all that God has created them to be and I hope that this blog can be one of the ways to do that.

Let’s press on and be who God created us to be!

Love,

Amber

x

Got a lot to say

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