Simplicity

The Great Terrain

It’s a new morning. I sit on my front balcony overlooking all of Gods creation. It’s right about now that the lions are hunting for their breakfast. The sun is rising to my right and I take a deep breathe in.

I’m still in Uganda, but a few days ago we traveled westward to go on an African Safari. We’re now just a short 20 minutes from the border of Congo. It’s hard to imagine people hunting people just like a lion hunts its prey in the Congo. And for what reason? I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that just a few short months ago no one would dare enter the Congo unless they had a death wish.

The lion crouches in the grass

The lion crouches in the grass

But as I sit here this morning soaking in Gods word and admiring His wonderful creation I find it hard to believe that turmoil could be going on not so far away. It’s quiet and peaceful. So quiet that I can hear the flap of birds wings as they soar through the air. I hear birds for miles and miles chirping away. They’re all singing different songs, but together it makes a serene noise. It’s honestly like something you would hear on a sleep machine and this is what I got to experience in real time for the last two nights. I wish we didn’t have to go. I wish we didn’t have to leave this place. It’s like something from a movie.

You watch the sunrise over the great terrain from your princess beds and watch the sunset at a fireside dinner with close friends as you recount the day seeing the jungle creatures… “If only that lion had attacked the antelope.” It’s fun to think about it but the fact of the matter is that lions only attack in the early early morning as the sun comes up.  The most surreal moment was when I realized that the hundreds of animals we saw weren’t in a zoo but rather in a jungle. There I stood a football field away from a wild lion. And here I am, unharmed. It’s pretty cool if you think about it. And no, I’m not saying that I’m invincible. It’s just cool to admire nature. As long as the lion didn’t feel threatened she wasn’t going to attack. Humans aren’t that much different.

Antelope

I sit in awe of the metaphors nature gives us. If you only just sit and be still you can learn so much from your surroundings. In this moment as I take everything in I admire the simplicity and contentment of the animals. The birds are happy just simply soaring through the air and the lion is contempt with just soaking up the sun – even though there are plenty of antelope to prey on. In the moment she’s not going to take what she doesn’t need. Simplicity. That seems to be the key to happiness on this new day.

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No Midnight Snack Allowed

A few of the kids waiting to come in for kids camp!

A few of the kids waiting to come in for kids camp!

I tucked myself into bed last night and my first thought was “Gosh, I’m hungry.” Normally, if I were home right now I’d hop out of bed, waltz down to the kitchen and pick one of hundreds of snacks. It’d probably be goldfish, let’s be honest, but I might have chocolate ice cream instead depending on the mood I was in. I remembered that I had dried mangos and granola bars in my suitcase but I really just wanted some goldfish. Why didn’t I remember to pack goldfish?

Just as I was getting a little frustrated that I didn’t pack goldfish I stopped myself. Here I was a little bit hungry and I was complaining that I didn’t have goldfish. I had about 60 granola bars and 2 large bags of dried fruit but not goldfish. I wanted to slap myself upside the head and shake myself “Sarah Kate, you are in AFRICA, there are over 66 million kids who will go to bed hungry tonight and every 4 seconds a child will die from it.” It broke my heart. How could I be so selfish? And to add insult to injury I had just eaten 4 hours ago, not 12 hours or even a countless number of days.

The little boy in the red had only a large shirt to wear - nothing else. Yet they're still happy!

The little boy in the red had only a large shirt to wear – nothing else. Yet he’s still happy!

Instantly I started thinking of the kids I had met earlier that day. They came rushing in the gates with tattered clothes and smiling faces.  Full of energy they ran around the James Place so happy to be able to jump rope and play soccer.  Later we sat them down to teach them a message and gave them a hard boiled egg and glass of water. As we passed the food and water out one of my team members leaned over and told me “for some of them this will be the only thing they put in their mouth all day.” ONE HARD BOILED EGG. That was it. All of the sudden I wasn’t hungry anymore.

I rolled over to my other side listening to the rain again. Not only did I have food but I had a roof over my head and a dry bed to sleep in – more than many people around me. I closed my eyes and counted my blessing just like I would count sheep until I fell asleep.

The Blue Necklace

 

Lisa and I drinking coffee on the tire hill

Lisa and I drinking coffee on the tire hill

“Cockadoodle doo!” the roosters crowed back and forth. Roosters are known for being competitive (naturally, since they’re boys) and this morning they seemed to be in the longest battle. Last night, I was fortunate enough to go to bed at 9:30. God gave me a little blessing, but I’m sure it’s because he knew the roosters would be having a crowing match of a lifetime at 6 in the morning. I rolled out of bed, thankful for my 8+ hours of sleep, and got ready for the day.
As I stepped down on the cold tile floor and grabbed my skirt, I wondered if our bags would get here today. First off, this was the last clean pair of clothes I had. secondly, today was a shopping day and I needed a place to store my Ugandan goods.  Friday’s at the James Place are for bible study and selling goods. Many women come to hear God’s word and sing songs of praise. Every few weeks (it’s on a rotation), they are able to bring their jewelry to sell to the mzungus (aka white people).

Beads
The morning sun felt nice as I walked back to the crafts shed to see what jewelry there was to buy.  Thoughts of my mom and my sister went through my mind; obviously, I was going to get something for them. As I walked up, I saw a blue three-string necklace and a green one that matched. If you knew me and Betsy, then you’d know that these necklaces were meant for us. I snatched them up, exchanged money with the smiling lady sitting behind her mat and carried on to see the other beautiful jewelry. About 20 minutes later, I walked out of the shed as a happy lady with a full bag of goods. I promptly pulled out my sisters necklace and wrapped it around my neck. I knew it wasn’t hers yet, but it still made me happy to know that at some point it would be.

We came down the hill to find a few ladies gathered on mats getting ready to sing a joyful song. There was a little baby who was only a week old and a little girl standing close. The baby was cute, and I wanted to play with the little one. I walked over to the cutie in a green dress and stretched out my arms to see if she wanted to come play. A little half-smile came across her face and she walked over into my arms. I picked her right up and popped her on my hip. We twirled around and she laughed and laughed, but more ladies had gathered and the singing was about to begin so we had to calm down a little bit.  The music brought joy to my soul. As my new little friend and I danced around, she grabbed ahold of Betsy’s necklace and let out a contagious laugh. It brought happy tears to my eyes listening to the child laugh, the ladies sing, and the thought of Betsy. We settled down to hear the message. Today was going to be a good day.

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Little Girl hold on tight to Betsy’s necklace

 

Know Your Values

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Last week, World Vision decided to open their doors and make a public announcement that they will now be hiring people who are in a same sex marriage. This decision was widely welcomed at large because it showed their support in the movement toward equality. However, just 2 days later the organization announced that they would be reversing their original decision which caused an uproar and many questions.

After the reversal people have started to say that World Vision doesn’t have values and if they do they don’t know what they are. Their values state,

“We act in ways that respect the dignity, uniqueness, and intrinsic worth of every person—the poor, the donors, our staff and their families, boards, and volunteers. We celebrate the richness of diversity in human personality, culture, and contribution.”

The reversal was a contradiction to their values but another problem lies in their value system. The organization has not established clear values for its people to believe in and live out every day. Without a strong value system you don’t know what to stand for and when a controversial decision is made it is bound to crumble under pressure. This is what happened to world vision.

After World Vision reversed their decision they sent out a press release that stated:

“ We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends…”

This sort of communication suggests that World Vision’s priorities lie with their large, influential donors. In their mission statement they state that they are trying to tackle poverty and injustice but by reversing their decision they’ve only caused a greater injustice.

World Vision could have been a leader in the fight for equality for gays but instead they have not only inflicted injustice among the gays but have also hurt themselves tremendously in the process. World Vision was unprepared for the inevitable backlash they were going to get from making this decision and instead of forging forward they waved their white flag and surrendered to the Christian criticism.

#INTERNGRAM

Looking for an Internship? Well Nivea is looking for an intern and they seem to have a pretty creative interview process.

Just the other day Nivea announced their latest contest – #interngram. They are in search of a creative digital intern and they’ve decided to use Instagram as their application process. They’ve challenged students to use instagram to show off their creativity.  

The challenge starts with candidates choosing one of three options: 

… a) express your creativity, b) show us your confidence or c) prove your pace. How? Take a photo or make a video that brings your chosen challenge – and your skills—to life.

The challenge is not only helping promote Nivea but also encouraging their potential interns get creative. It’s pretty smart on Nivea’s end too to reach out via social media for a few reasons:

  1. They can do a little background search on their applicants via their social media (aka stalk their interns)
  2. It promotes their brand by making an internship application public
  3. It gets people involved via likes and shares!

Makes you wonder how other companies might get creative in the future with their internships! 

It’s “On the House” at Kitchen Notes

The past couple Monday nights I’ve been spoiled. My best friend, Libby, also known as The Local Lady, has been wineing and dining me all over town. Two weeks ago we ate at Cantina Laredo and just this last Monday we enjoyed the sweet southern tastes of Kitchen Notes and Bar Lines in the Omni Hotel. The best part? We didn’t have to pay a dime.

How did we luck out? How did we get our 3 course meals and drinks paid for? Libby has a blog and a pretty dang good one at that. Over the summer she started The Local Lady. Her focus is on “Embracing Authenticity and One of a Kind Legacies.” She works hard traveling all over Nashville, setting up interviews, and getting to know the local gems. And with today being Valentines Day, these local restaurants wanted to give us a taste of their menu beforehand.

Barlines @ The Omni

Libby enjoying her drink at Barlines

Of the two, I preferred our experience at the Omni for a few reasons.

1. They pay attention to the detail. Upon arriving they opened the door for us, made sure we knew where we were going, and greeted us when we entered the room. They had us enter a drawing for a one night stay at the Omni Hotel with a complimentary breakfast at Kitchen Notes and in each of our seats they had a gift bag. The bag contained a few gifts from local artisans along with a bit of information about the Omni Hotel and Kitchen Notes.

2. The let us try everything. Of course, it was a set valentines menu but from that menu we got to try 4 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 3 different desserts. I believe in order to make a good recommendation for your readers you should try everything. As a blogger it’s nice to be able to tell them what you liked and disliked; what you thought was the best or what could have been better… They did not skimp on anything and they were constantly making sure we had what we needed. Additionally, their set menu was composed of items off their regular menu. That aspect will have me returning even after Valentine’s Day since I know I’ll be able to get what I had year round.

3. 2 Different Restaurants, 1 Location. We had the pleasure of trying both Kitchen Notes, a southern restaurant, and Bar Lines, a “honky tonk” bar. We enjoyed a nice sit down meal and afterwards enjoyed drinks and live music. Bar Lines is mainly a whiskey bar. They try to put their focus on Tennessee and what local cuisine and drinks would taste like. At the bar, Libby and I enjoyed the “Lincoln County Maple Smash.” It had George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, Maple Syrup, Lemon, and Mint. I’m not a mixed drink girl but that was TASTY!

Overall, my experience at The Omni was enjoyable because they were focused on us. They wanted to make sure we were staying informed and having a pleasant time- and we definitely did! I would go back and highly recommend it!

 

Also, check out Libby’s Local Lady Video 🙂

 

JCPenny Gets Drunk

Was JCPenny hacked or was it just a cheap Super Bowl marketing plan? It’s no secret JCPenny has been suffering financially so when it comes down to it they probably couldn’t even afford a Super Bowl Ad. So naturally, they turned to Social Media but their marketing strategy “#tweetingwithmittens” left followers confused for many reasons. So what could they have done differently to make it more clear to the followers that this wasn’t just a drunk employee.

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1. Be consistent with the hashtag. Before the game JCPenny tweeted a picture of them with their gloves on. Here would have been a good time to start the hashtag. #tweetingwithmittens might now have been the best one to use because it might have given their strategy away and caused less uproar. But, hashtagging “#teamUSA” or “#JCPtakesthesuperbowl” would have been more thought out and would have also gone along with the drunk theme. Additionally, it would have tied in all the other tweets JCP sent out after the “drunk” tweets.

2. Use JCPenny in the hashtag. We all know the points of hashtags; to be able to track conversations and keep up with general interests. It would have been wise to use JCP or JCPenny in the hashtag to promote themselves. Their tweets got over 43,000 – that is a huge amount – but imagine what kind of traffic it would have created if followers of the retweeters knew it was JCPenny behind it all.

3. Tie Everything Together. If you go back and look at JCPenny’s Twitter you will find many tweets after the incident that promote the idea of it being a marketing plan. They even tweeted the next morning a funny picture of a mug they sell in the stores but without the consistent hashtag those additional tweets seemed to get lost in the mix. After doing a little research for this blog post I believe the “drunk tweets” were not an accident but purposeful and there was no confusion behind that after i saw the additional tweets. However, they didn’t do a good job of making sure people saw the additional tweets and therefore it was rather confusing to their audience.

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If JCPenny had thought out this strategy more I think it would have been an excellent marketing plan. But little things were overlooked and instead it turned into a catastrophe. This marketing fail is just a little reminder: “it’s in the details.”