Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ethical Fashion Report 2017 - How did your favourite brands score?

For the last six months, my colleagues and I at Tearfund in New Zealand have been working on this. The Ethical Fashion Report for 2017 ranking both New Zealand and Australian brands (242 of them) from from A to F on the levels of visibility and transparency across their supply chain with regards to worker rights, policies and practices.One of my favourite magazines, Good Magazine did this awesome write up that does an amazing job breaking down the report. You can read it here.  But if you've only got a minute or's my key takeaways including one on kids clothing. And if you want to go straight to the source and download the full guide or the full report - go here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

An open letter to our newlywed selves - 10 years on.

This morning I woke up after a rip roaring night listening to the local club down the road pound their baseline so hard it took my fan on full speed and two ear plugs to stop my stomach reverberating to the beat. I then switched off said fan, and walked down the hall to my daughter’s bedroom to find her playing in her room quietly. I moved to the next room to find Eva – not there – no surprise. She’d managed to get out into the lounge and was wandering around without a diaper and a spoonful of Vaseline she was feeding herself. Tim, who had kindly let me sleep in till 7am popped his head around the corner, gave me a smooch and said, “Happy 10 year Wedding Anniversary Babe.” And it hit me. I’ve been married a decade to this man. How the heck did that happen? How on earth did I end up in the middle of Africa, with two little girls living this chaotic but wonderful life? All at once the memories of a decade flashed before my eyes. Oh what I wish I knew back then.

And then the thought struck me, what if I could go back? What would I want to say to myself? What would I want to know? So I’ve decided to write a letter to my newlywed self  in the hope that somewhere, somehow, someone  would find a teeny tiny bit of wisdom from a wife that’s been there, done that and lived to write the blog. Because exactly 10 years ago at this precise moment I walked down the aisle and said, I do, and I wished someone had told me the following.

Dear Helen,

1)      Let the man be. Your husband is an ‘ambivert’.  He both enjoys time by himself and time with others. But every now and then he really needs time alone. This is not a bad thing. This is not a reflection on you. This is not a reflection on your marriage, or “the end of your marriage” as you dramatically put it. It is how the good Lord made him. So, let the man be! Don’t be texting and calling him while he’s doing his thing. Stop asking him to come home early from work/fishing/hunting/beer nights/rugby games and so on. Stop with the whining. You’ll be married about 7 years before you have kids. After kids, he will do next to none of this and you’ll wish he could! Don’t be stealing his joy. This season is a short one and he deserves a break. From you. To be blunt. You’re quite annoying.

2)      Go on adventures with him. This man of yours is at his core, an adventurer. He’s going to suggest things – wild things, things you’re going to want to instantly dismiss. Things like “Let’s move to the Middle East” or “Let’s move to Africa” or “Wanna walk around in the game park and sneak up on some elephants with me?” But when you day after day, month after month, year after year say no, you’ll be killing the creative, imaginative spark inside. Say yes baby, say yes. Not all his ideas are good ones, but the best years of your life will be the ideas you say yes to. Go to Amman, Jordan, let him hang the decapitated deer in the garage, let him build a fire pit out of your old washing machine – why the heck not? He’s weird. Embrace it.  Just make sure you’re wholeheartedly into the adventure – exactly 50/50 to be precise or you’ll blame him for every little thing that goes wrong.
3)      He wants your respect more than your love. When you are disrespectful, you wound him deep. That kind of undermining, mean spirited chat is bad. Real bad. He holds onto those words, mulls them over and thinks about them far more than you realise. When he brings them up weeks later you’ll feel terrible knowing the last few weeks have been a mess for him simply because of your careless choice of words you’ve long forgotten (and didn’t mean).

4)      Be his biggest cheerleader.  Encourage him to dream that dream he’s meant to dream. Encourage him to run after his passions. Support him in the endeavours that set his soul on fire. Don’t squash him. He’s got so many gifts and talents that God’s placed on the inside of him and he needs you to help bring them out.  Nurture that like only you can.

5)      Tell him what you want. If that means you need to write a list of what success looks like to you on your birthday, in terms of how many presents, what you’d like to eat and where you’d like to go then you do that hunni. This is not a guessing game. This is your marriage and if you want it to be good, be straight forward.

And because marriage is a two way street here’s Tim’s two cents.

Dear Tim,
1)      Your wife is going to ask you to write something in ten years’ time about what you’ve learnt in ten years of marriage to her. This is going to annoy you, but you will do it because you love that little firecracker of a wife and she currently lives in Africa with you.

2)      You feel uncomfortable whenever she’s driving now. You’ll still feel uncomfortable in ten years. Trust your instincts on this one.

3)      If you want to eat anything other than packet macaroni and cheese, vegetable lasagne or chicken salad - learn to cook.

4)      You’re marrying an incredibly energetic, talented and creative person who has lots of ideas.   She has a lot to offer in an important area so you need to build her up. Don’t hold her back, instead encourage her and watch where God leads.

5)      You have a God loving, beautiful and driven woman who is willing to marry you. What an incredible gift. Be thankful for that.

DISCLAIMER: We don’t presume to know anything about marriage. Really, we don’t. But we do know a little about our own marriage, in our own context. And that is all.