Day of Giving: A Perspective from Lynette Wert
REAL: “Real” used to be defined by a fancy French word: raison d’être (“reason for being”). Now we sign up for symposiums teaching “Getting to Real” and drop catchphrases such as, “Get real, man!” “Real” simply represents the operating principles that guide one’s life. Everyone develops a philosophy, even if it is never stated in words.
We go through the years improvising, starring in our individual, unscripted, 24/7 reality shows. No rewinds. No retakes. Plenty of bloopers. Normal life? Life as usual? Never happens! Staying true to personal internal principles is the only preparation for tomorrow’s always-surprising segment of our life script.
Some believe machines may improve our reason for being through artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality. We hope accessing quantum computing, acquiring fancier phones, using faster joysticks and wearing alternative vision glasses will make us smarter and happier. A better reality or just busier? Real gets confused with more. Real becomes obscured in the search for more “likes,” more stuff, more Botox!
The passing years have tuned my internal VCR to fast forward. Focus has shifted from temporary (more) to permanent (real). What time I fold the laundry won’t matter. The basket will just sit there. Visiting my friend in the hospital today will matter. She will feel better and I will feel better. Being real, for me, is now finite: knowing how to give and receive love and remembering when to laugh.
STRONG: First comes feeling safe and secure in one’s own skin, physically and emotionally. With that in place, an individual can proceed to confidence in self, which extends to compassion for others.
I was lucky to have strong women as ancestors. My grandmother married at 15 and had seven children—not surprising for 100 years ago. But then she finished high school, went to college, obtained her master’s degree and set up one of the nation’s first special education programs. Both my mother and mother-in-law set examples that strength meant mental toughness rather than physical brawn. Strong did not mean being the loudest or smartest person in the room (although sometimes they were both!).
Throughout my life, from my highest joys to my deepest devastations, those who arrived first, either to pop the champagne cork in celebration or to shed heartfelt tears in grief, were family, Alpha Chi sisters and a poet. My advice for good times and bad: Call your family, call your sisters and call a particularly good poet!
Real, strong qualities were revealed to me in Alpha Chi Omega by my big, Jane Thompson Garrett, and my little, Kay Husky Nida, during my college days in the Psi chapter. In my academic career at the university, I was mentored by Shakespeare scholar Dr. Shelley Rutherford and author and artist-in-residence Marilyn Harris Springer. As we became friends, we discovered the three of us had much in common as working writers, working mothers and Alpha Chi Omegas.
I believe every workplace is enhanced by women’s creativity. In professions from arts to zookeeper, it is invaluable to have like-minded, strong women as friends, colleagues and mutual supporters.
Women & Wisdom is not only a great use of alliteration, but also an organic, fortunate pairing of words. All of us are ultimately self-educated, helped partly by institutions and mostly by experience. A trusted guiding hand at home, in college or in our careers is often the crucial nudge forward on the path to our dreams. Mentors post the signs that point the way to success. Alpha Chi Omega’s Women & Wisdom program promises benefits both ways. After all, which brings the greater reward: finding a helping hand or being one?
Supporting the Foundation is an outgrowth of my dad’s forthright financial advice: “Money is a good thing, so spend some, save some and use some to do good.” The Foundation is a way to pass it on by building a bridge linking past knowledge to future endeavors. Those who will join Alpha Chi Omega in coming years will undoubtedly expand the definitions of education, enhancement and empowerment, and the Foundation’s resources will be there to help them.
Besides the thrill of having three generations of Alpha Chi Omegas currently in my family, I trust in the overall Panhellenic concept of fraternity. Finding a community of women with compatible goals allows for expanding opportunities for all, both on campus and in the community. I have been privileged to serve as a chapter recruitment chairman, a member of the alumnae house corporation and president of Oklahoma City Panhellenic. Fraternity life has offered me an opportunity to participate all the way from happy collegian to hurried carpooler to corporate exec to crafty grandma!
In 1956, my goal as a freshman was remarkably shallow. I wanted to join a sorority—any sorority! I was impressed that the Psi chapter had a high grade point average. The house had the same turquoise carpet and Community silver-plate pattern my family used at home, so I felt at ease. How fortunate that I followed the lead of my three best friends and pledged Alpha Chi Omega. Through the years, the chapter GPA varied. The house corporation changed the carpet and silverware many times. But after 60 years, I’m grateful that my best friends are still my best friends and Alpha Chi Omegas—real, strong, loyal, wise women.