Calling All Vols: Volunteer Gear is pouring into KARM as We Speak. #GBO

Attention University of Tennessee Volunteers

Remember last semester when the Vol Shops put all of the Adidas on 50% off? And half of you was like *throws money at teller *walks out IN #11 Jersey. But the other half of you was like…. *throws money at teller *walks out with Anatomy textbook in tears.

The only thing we hate more than 8 a.m’s is the wait for Football Season. All we can do to pass the time is gear up. And do I have news for you. Today, I was dealhunting at KARM (Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries), the thrift store on Hall of Fame. I was minding my own business when one of the managers rolled out an entire rack of Orange and White. Then another rack. Then another rack. Then rack number four.

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People.  Someone bought out ALL the Adidas and donated it to our neighborhood KARM. If you thought 50% off was a steal, you need to see KARM’s prices. Plus, the money is going back to our community to provide hot  meals and safe shelter for our neighbors.Can you say, win-win?

And really, is there a better way to prep for the season? Vol Nation at it’s best. We’re so lucky to have an education, housing, access to cafeterias full of food – We’re the lucky ones. Now is our chance to rev up that Volunteer Spirit before the season starts.

After I tried on like 15 things, the manager mentioned that the four racks before me were just the beginning. They’re processing an entire campus worth of Vol Gear in the back. I decided to hold off on my Lady Vols rain jacket…. But you bet your sweet molasses I’m heading back tomorrow to put my money where my mouth heart is. My community!

Also, KARM‘s website just updated for 7/27…..954 Meals were Served and 348 Guests received Shelter. Every single purchase goes directly to Knoxville, for Knoxville, from Knoxville. So don’t forget when your dorm bookshelves don’t sell on Craigslist – you can still donate at 733 Hall of Fame Drive and make a difference!

GO BIG ORANGE

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I call this look “Day Off Chic”

P&S in 11 or Less: San Francisco

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I’ve realized it’s next to impossible to share every priceless moment I’ve had on my adventures. If I were reading your trip recap, I’d find it more exciting to see your thrills and spills – the glorious highlights that MADE your trip. Cheers to hoping the name sticks – I wanted to share my 11 favorite moments from my recent trip to San Fran.

It was crazy. S & I both got off work early that Sunday and had a couple days off. The flights were wide open (good news for standbyers like me). As simple as the second star to the right, then straight on till morning. *only the star was a CRJ to Charlotte. So off we went. Here’s our highlights.

1. The Ferry Building

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S & I walked from Fisherman’s Wharf, past 39 piers all the way to this gem. I had to stop to catch my breath, and by that I mean get Starbucks. Just standing here for 15 minutes, I probably counted 8 brightly colored cable cars. It made the hike worth it.

2. Pier 39

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So the hike kicked my butt because I was actually stuffed. We ate lunch at Pier 39 and all I wanted to do was flop in the sun like these handsome men. We watched in just enough to watch the skinny sea lion lift his head to glare at the boat for disrupting his quiet.

3. Cupid’s Span

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I’m not gonna lie, I had no idea what this sculpture was called until I looked it up just now. All that matters is that it was Huge. AND, there was a woman playing with the happiest black poodle I’ve ever seen in my life. Dog was straight frolicking – I should have got it on video, it would have gone viral. #sanfrandogsarehappydogs

4. Boardwalk at Pier 39.

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If you walk all the way out on the boardwalk past the sea lions and the boat docking, you can see Alcatraz straight ahead. But if you look straight down, you see the single best advice I’ve ever seen in my life. OK, if you insist.

5. Same Boardwalk, Different Angle

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Selfie down by the bay. I saw no watermelons….

7. Fisherman’s Wharf

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So, I’m not saying skip the touristy stuff. Do that, because when is the next time you’ll be a tourist in San Fran? However, if you walk straight ahead through the crowd and shops and look to your left, there’s the Musee Mecanique. This is a warehouse PACKED with ancient coin-operated arcade games. By the way, Julia Andrews and Anne Hathaway arm wrestled there…

8. The Wharf at Night

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We were supposed to be on a flight back home at midnight. We landed that morning at 12:35am, slept till 9am, inhaled the city thinking we only had 12 hours on the ground. When we realized the midnight flight was overbooked, we stopped jogging and tried to enjoy our last few hours in San Francisco. This was right after dinner, as S & I were heading back to our cable car. If we weren’t so freaking exhausted, it would have been extremely romantic.

9. Our Cable Car

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This gem was my very first cable car. I am a true tourist now, and I can’t wait to ride them ALL!  This was also my sweet salvation at the end of our 12 hour tour of SF. As much as I adored our trek through the city, I was so excited to ride this trolley back to the hotel. I slept like a BABY that night.

10. Thank you San Francisco,

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for the sunburn, the sweat, the stinky fish smell, the weird locals, the overpriced souvenirs and the best first West Coast Experience a girl could have ever asked for. Thank you San Francisco!

11. But No Thank You’s to SFO Airport

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Never complaining again about a hotel. After being rolled off of 9 Standby Lists on anything flying Eastbound, we finally got on a flight to New York City… Flew into JFK to take a little 1am power nap. Couldn’t sleep. Ran the halls of JFK like loose animals. Then we taxied to La Guardia, where we realized security isn’t open at 3am. So we slept on the cold tile outside security like a homeless person. (probably with homeless persons… I didn’t ask the others sleeping in that hallway). Boarded the flight to Nashville where we rented a car and drowsy drove our way to Knoxville.

FINALLY we made it home with one of the most epic last-minute adventure stories of the year. Cheers to ALWAYS saying yes to adventure and dealing with the repercussions later.

Polar Bear: Spirit Animal

If you know a single thing about me, you know that Polar Bears are my favorite animal. I don’t know what it is about them, so I thought I would do some digging. Here’s what I found from http://www.spirit-animals.com/polar-bear/.

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If the Polar Bear has come to hold significant meaning for you…

The Polar Bear is reminding you how enormously strong and full of courage you are. He has come to help you stand up to your current challenges in life, no matter how intimidating they are. You will never be overwhelmed. Polar Bear also reminds you that you can thrive in environments that may be hostile to others.

You know how to use your own power. You are fierce and strong yet playful at the same time. You know how to pursue what you want deliberately and powerfully. You are not afraid to show aggressive behavior – however you use it for defensive purposes only rather than bullying your way through things. You are a good provider and you enjoy the responsibility of providing for others.

If Polar Bear has come into your Dream…

When Polar bear comes to you in a dream it signifies a reawakening within you. This aspect of yourself will defy adversity and reflect a fearlessness of never giving in to your problems. Alternatively Polar Bear may also reflect a person in your life that you can depend on to do the right thing. You have the ability to compromise nothing to negativity. Polar Bears in dreams are considered good omens.

Polar Bears in dreams often signify an improvement in your circumstances.

Additional Associations for Polar Bear…

  • Ability to navigate along the Earth’s magnetic lines
  • Introspection
  • Expert swimmer through emotional waters
  • Finding one way back from the brink
  • Strength in the face of adversity
  • Transformation
  • Defense and revenge
  • Strength in adversity
  • Endurance in situations
  • Can show how to tap into emotions with clairty

I love how spot on this description was. I love bears!

Buzzfeed Strikes Again: What If I Knew I Was Beautiful?

Unexpected confidence boost, anyone? I adore this. Once again Buzzfeed tells it to us straight. I’m so guilty of devaluing myself when I receive compliments. Instead, I wanna be a woman who’s not afraid to love myself. I’ll be doing Bad, but I don’t wanna do it all by myself. Anyone else feeling especially sassy as they dive into their afternoon? Cheers, ladies!

8 Questions God Wants Me To Ask Myself While The World Goes Mad

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We know the news had a hidden agenda. We know conspiracy theories get mixed into the media. There are credible threats and non-credible threats and it’s hard to tell the difference. We know there are major changes in place for our country and that is scary.

We feel like we have to look over our shoulder constantly. Sometimes it feels like neighbor vs. neighbor with this war on racism, terrorism, violence, equality, international matters… who can you trust? We turn to prayer and news, news then prayer, prayer, rumor, fear. We want to validate this using that, explain that using this. Coincidence or God? There’ so much room for fear and speculation.

Someone close to me recently opened the door to this fear and doubt. In their mind, the End is coming. In fact, “God actually told him” and every scary news report is just confirmation. For the first time, I looked up the types of “prophecies being fulfilled” that he and millions of others have bought into. It’s scary stuff – I don’t believe it, but it is truly scary.

Here’s what I learned though. I can’t be Afraid. I can’t. We just can’t. We don’t have time to be consumed with what might happen next weekend. Why that happened last month. What could happen at the end of the year. Do Not Be Afraid. I’m not here to debunk the number of times it’s actually written in the Bible, but I know it’s implied with every word. And if Jesus said it once, that’s good enough for me. I can’t fear ISIS. I can’t fear being this race or that (or both in my case). I can’t fear a flag. I can’t fear the repercussions of two people in love.

There’s so much better ways I could spend this day God provided me. Here’s the things I feel God wants me to ask myself at the end of the day.

1. Did I choose Faith over fear today?

2. God gave me a heart Bursting with love and joy. Did I withhold it from anyone?

3. Did I allow preparedness to become panic?

4. In speaking with someone who disagrees with my opinion, was I kind or unkind? 

5. Did I speak as though I knew God’s plan (when I know it exceeds anything I can imagine?)

6. Am I trying to validate something scary to pretend I have control, or did I remember God has the control?

7. Knowing it’s hard to let go, Did I redirect my natural desire for control in a positive way or a negative way?

8. Did I talk with God about my concerns? 

These are not questions I ask, but they are questions I need to start asking. I feel myself slipping into a state of Why’s and What If’s, and I see others around me going there too. God doesn’t want us to be afraid, but that doesn’t mean he wants us making assumptions about his plan either. The only fear I want to have is Did I relish in this day God made with all the joy, love, and faith in my heart? Yes or No?

[Artwork: Banksy]

Branding Win: Marriott

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I have been working for Marriott since September of 2014. We’re challenged every day to uphold the standard of excellence – Brilliance, we call it. Make it brilliant. Because exceeding expectations is the name of the game – and when we don’t meet expectations, every front desk agent is responsible for ensure that guest leaves pleased. I’ve loved working for Marriott, but today it really hit home.

See, today we received a call from a high level Elite guest. We’re talking, 150+ nights a year level guest. Basically family. I answered the call and spoke to a very concerned parent. He informed me that his daughter was involved in a car accident nearby, with no serious injury. He wanted her to be taken to the nearest Marriott hotel – which happened to be my hotel.

I assured him that as soon as his daughter came in the door, I would personally greet her. I would have a ice packs just in case, snacks and drinks to help calm her nerves, on the house. My house. She will be very shaken in an unfamiliar city… well this is my specialty. There’s nothing more comforting than hometown Southern Hospitality.

I don’t love that she got in a wreck – not at all! But I love that the Marriott has provided this family such outstanding service that he prefers she be taken to one of our locations. If I were in his shoes, I would want her in a safe, secure, comfortable place where she can gather her nerves. We get to provide that for this family in need. You know your company has done a good job when you have that kind of respect from your clients. That is successful branding.

7 Hurdles to Overcome When Your Best Friend Moves Away

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A couple days ago, my Snapchat lit up with my sweet Sierra’s face plastered on an official Florida Driver’s License. I know she was thrilled, but honestly this milestone was big for me. I survived a year without my best friend and there counting down on my screen was proof of the finish line. Victory was mine. It seemed like yesterday, I was standing in her driveway at 8am watching her drive off in her new car packed with her new plates and appliances. Off to Florida –  I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of her. 10 hours from home, only one friend in Orlando to call her own, two very demanding jobs, her first apartment – my girl did what every small town girl dreams of.

It’s a mystery to me how I survived, but I did want to share the 7 big hurdles I had to overcome going from being separated by 10 minutes to being separated by 10 hours. This is the brutally honest list of what to expect if your best friend is moving away – and how to cope.

1. Time Difference – This could be literal time difference. Or it could be life doing what life does. There was a SOLID chunk of time when Si was working till 2 and 3 in the morning. Back to back. For weeks in a row. It was really hard at first remembering she wasn’t living with her parents like I was. She was busting ass – working hard to pay bills, and spending her precious free time the most effective way possible. Frankly, catching up on the latest hometown gossip isn’t the most relaxing way to end a rough day. Can’t be selfish. Gotta be supportive. That was a major growth moment for me.

2. Feeling Replaced – This is a problem every childhood friend goes through. Personally, I’ve ALWAYS struggled with jealousy. I used to be very protective of my friends. At first, it was hard to imagine other people having all these amazing adventures with one of my closest friends. However, I KNOW I would have been hurting for her if she hadn’t made any friends. Plus, I know the new people in her life are amazing and smart and really care for her. She trusts them and she loves them. Had some growing up to do there too

3. Not being the First to Know – I wasn’t the last to know when my friend quit her second job (the primary inspiration for the move). But I wasn’t the first. Alright, no biggie. But it was definitely a reminder that we aren’t 14 anymore. There was once a time when I couldn’t paint my nails a different color without telling her. When your best friend moves away, you’ve got to adjust your mind and respect their new life and priorities. It won’t matter if you’re the first to know, because they already know you have their back in the decisions. No matter what.

4. Not Having that Hug on Bad Days  –  My friend living so far away forced me to wear my big girl panties sometimes. I had to handle my own drama. I had to make my own choices first. She was so extremely supportive whenever we could connect – and I could tell she was proud of me. You know you’ve got an unbreakable friendship when your friend stops her world to comfort you when she can’t be there beside you.

5. Fighting Other Hometown Friends When She Comes Home –  We were chatting one night before the holidays when she spilled the beans – she was flying home the next day to surprise everyone.  I only had a window of a few hours off work during her short stay – and this was her first trip home. So I was RIGHT there on her couch waiting for her… waiting for her Other friend to bring her home after afternoon of catching up. Well, they were late… and they kept talking in the driveway. And all I wanted to do was punch them and kidnap her. But I had to remember, they had missed her just as much as I had. It’s so easy to become selfish – so easy. Can’t do that.

6. Approving potential Boyfriends – In the best friend manual, this is bolded and underlined as rule #4. All potential boyfriends must be approved. (and properly threatened). But, this is also written as rule #3 of being a parent. So I’ll just have to wait patiently with her family for a guy she deems worthy of bringing home. #judgementdayiscoming #consideryourselfwarned

7. Missing out on “Firsts” – She missed my first attempt at moving into an apartment. I missed her buying her first car. That being said, I am emotionally prepared for our 21st birthdays. I highly doubt she’ll be home for my fist wasted stupor (I’m not a drinker) and if she hasn’t gotten White Girl Wasted(those are her words, not mine) yet… I doubt I’ll be present and accounted for.

BUT I WILL LIVE. SHE WILL LIVE. AND OUR CHILDREN WILL BE PENPALS. Because true friendship knows no borders. This experience taught me what a selfish, preoccupied, jealous, wacko I can be sometimes. And somehow she loves me for it.

My Internship Broke My Life’s Plan.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of accompanying my team in a real life client meeting. In fact, for a few minutes, I was seated with our the Director of our client company to my left, and a very important C-Suiter to my right. (Don’t worry – this is not another internship fail story!)

Being the team’s charming millennial viewpoint, I got hit with all the questions during the coffee break. Where do you go to school? How is it going? What do you see yourself doing in the future?
My answer, Well, I’m a UT student, just wrapped up an excellent sophomore year, looking forward to entering the advertising industry where I can put to use the design and media elements I’ve had the privilege of practicing during this experience. (Alright, so I didn’t say it quite like that – I was a little more awkward than that.)

After some commendation, my Director chimed in, “Phoebe doesn’t know it yet, but she’s actually going to become a Marketing expert…” In my mind, I was all like, Suuuuuure. Because my commercials can Totally be featured in the Super Bowl if I enter the Marketing industry instead of Advertising. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works, you crazy!

WELL.

Here’s part two of the story.

I ran into an old friend at the grocery store who got my marketing wheels turning. Although her daughter, a former best friend of mine, is not opening her own bakery, she definitely gave me some inspiration. First words out of my mouth – Ms. R, your daughter NEEDS to open a bakery. The city of Knoxville is being deprived of her talent every day she is not actively owning a bakery. I would support her 100%. I would use every talent I have (aka Social Media Marketing) to help Knoxville find and fall for her.

THE MARKETER HAS KICKED IN.

I was still noodling on my friend’s future bakery’s Social Media Marketing campaign. Oh, it’s going to be beautiful. My mind is flipping through all this vocabulary I’ve learned from my internship. Alpha Audience, Content Saturation, Social Proof, Distribution, Shareability, Authority… Forget the commercials – unless they’re being shared via YouTube to her loving audience.  Melina, Girl, if you ever open a bakery, you need to call me. #bakedbyrussel #SweetRussels #bakersgonnabake

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What’s happened to me? Can I just become a Social Media Marketing Expert and help small businesses connect with local-loving consumers? Because while that niche is booming, Knoxville will NEVER stop loving our scruffy small businesses. This is my home – I know what’s it was and what it’s becoming and what the people WANT! And everyday with this internship, I’m learning HOW they want to see it online. Do I want to do this? Have they converted me to a marketer?

Has anyone been inspired by an internship? Any lightbulb moments that just screamed YASS?

Dear Charleston

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Dear Charleston.

My heart is boiling over for you. Not with anger, but with an overflowing love and concern. The morning after a man opened fire in my own church, I woke up with this nightmare replaying over and over in my head. It was like reality was drained right out of life and this alternate universe had taken over.

I can’t imagine knowing the doors swung open and the car drove off.
That makes my heart hurt so deeply – not having that sense of “it’s over now”.

Charleston. Where there is fear, there is twice as much love. You wait, in the coming days, you will see an outpouring like you’ve never imagined. It can’t return to you what was lost – all it can do is wrap tightly around you and hold you close. But you will be safe, warm, and loved, and you can heal.

God’s plan will completely astound you. Sometimes you want to turn away. Sometimes you want to plead for answers. Why Why Why. But if you save some room in your heart for faith, even when it seems consumed with fear, your walk with God will take you farther than you dreamed.

You have never been less alone.

Love,
Phoebe
Knoxville, TN