By Meredith Denton-Rines
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University – Springfield
It’s been five years since I was a collegiate member of Alpha Chi Omega. I carry lessons from Alpha Chi with me every day and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Some of my favorite memories are of laughing with my sisters. However, the Ritual of Alpha Chi has deep roots in my heart and is what guides me.
Alpha Chi was the place where I first learned about being financially responsible, a lesson I had to quickly learn as the director of finances for Panhellenic.
The love of finance came quickly to me. I am now a financial advisor with a mission to help women create a path to reach their specific goals. I’ve realized that our Ritual keeps us in tune to reach our financial goals. With our Ritual and values in mind, I want to share tips on making healthy financial decisions for the rest of your life.
Wisdom & Devotion & Together Let Us Seek the Heights
You must work as a team to reach your goals, just as Alpha Chi Omega’s motto states, “Together let us seek the heights.” Your team may no longer be your sorority sisters. Maybe you’re an independent single woman, or perhaps you have a spouse and family. In college you demonstrated wisdom and devotion by studying to achieve good grades. You even took time to help others by getting involved in and taking an interest in others’ success. Now you have the chance to use your focus and study skills to make savvy money choices.
You are an educated, bright woman who understands the value of knowledge. As you get older, you also understand the importance of continuing your education. In doing so, you are able to make sound financial decisions. Planning for your retirement is like planning for a class project: you list your priorities and research options, construct a plan and then move forward.
TIP: Gain knowledge about retirement planning and saving. I recommend talking to a financial advisor early to create a plan. It’s easy to let life get in the way of preparing for the future, but you need to make sound financial decisions now, when it matters most. Starting a savings plan while in your 20s can make a huge impact on your future retirement. Start now.
You may have achieved a leadership role in Alpha Chi and on campus during college; now you must continue being a mentor by taking leadership of your life. You control our own destiny. If you do not take ownership of your goals and your path, no one else will. In today’s world it is becoming more and more acceptable to expect others to take care of you, but you cannot allow that. Only you know what’s the most valuable to you. You must stand up as a leader and know your worth.
I’d like to pull in one of our membership criteria here: financial responsibility. Our sisterhood definitely values being financially responsible, and it fits well with making healthy financial decisions. You learned how to balance your finances in college. Between chapter dues, girls’ nights out, and being able to afford the time of your life, you had plenty to think about. As you graduate and leave college, those financial worries only shift. Instead of chapter dues, you now have mortgage payments. In college you budgeted your time and money so you didn’t have to miss out on any fun adventures. Now you need to budget your money so you can live a debt-free life. You can be a step ahead of others by staying out of debt and “to keep [your] life in tune with the world.” Learning to balance early puts us a step ahead of others.
TIP: Create a budget and learn “to meet with courage the challenges of daily living.” Budgeting is a key to success. You can see where you are and where you want to go, and you can map a clear path to follow.
“To give graciously and to receive no less graciously that others may know the thrill of giving”
This line from our 75-year member ceremony is a great reminder to be philanthropic throughout your life. You learned the importance of philanthropy while in college. Alpha Chi does wonderful things to support real, strong women and prevent domestic violence. By budgeting and saving you will be able to achieve greatness in your life. The ability “to give graciously and to receive no less graciously that others may know the thrill of giving,” is an amazing virtue that you can continue to pass on.
TIP: As you grow older and your time commitments become more involved, it’s easy to stop giving to organizations about which you are passionate. You simply don’t have the time. However, you can give so much more than time by creating a budget and sticking to it. You need to carry on Alpha Chi’s passion for philanthropy throughout your life.
Making healthy financial decisions is not as hard as you might think. You, an Alpha Chi Omega sister, have learned many valuable lessons from our Ritual and values. You get the opportunity to carry these standards and values with you every single day and to apply them to many aspects of your life, including financial decisions.
About the Author: Meredith Denton-Rines is Director of Marketing and a Financial Specialist at Dairel L. Denton, Jr. & Associates, an accounting and financial planning firm in Southeast Missouri. She enjoys working with women, helping them create an individualized plan to reach their life goals. Connect with Meredith on Twitter and on her blog merelynne.com.
Sisters across the country celebrated Hera Day by bringing happiness to others in their communities. Here are 10 ways chapters from Utah to Florida spread happiness and well-being to others earlier this month:
1. Alpha Chis at William Woods painted nails of residents at Fulton Nursing home.
2. Chapter members at William and Mary volunteered at the Heritage Humane Society.
3. Utah State University had fun brightening the day of Legacy House residents.
4. Indiana State Alpha Chis served food at the Haute Light House Mission.
5. Sisters from UNC Chapel Hill made cards for patients at the Duke Children’s Hospital.
6. Oregon State members added some cheer to everyone’s day by handing out red carnations on campus.
7. Western Michigan Alpha Chis wrote letters to hospital patients.
8. Sisters from Purdue wrote letters to volunteers of Court appointed Special Advocates (CASA) thanking for their service to their community.
9. Arizona Alpha Chis made blankets for a local children’s hospital.
10. The Arlington, TX Alumnae Chapter Delta Eta Delta, built 28 bears to give to kids staying at a local shelter.
Did you celebrate Hera Day? Let us know by posting a comment!
Happy MacDowell Month!
February is the time of year that Alpha Chis celebrate the arts. Our heritage is deeply connected to the arts: our seven founders were all musicians and our first philanthropic project was supporting the MacDowell Colony.
We wondered: how are our sisters celebrating MacDowell Month?
Here are some of the responses we got from collegiate and alumnae members:
The Nashville Alumnae Chapter will be hosting a craft day with Zeta Omicron!
Bridget Gorta, Epsilon Phi
Studying Art Education at Missouri State University! Also plan on visiting Crystal Bridges in Arkansas on Valentine’s Day.
Erin O’Sullivan, Zeta Sigma
I’ve got 2 little girls starting rehearsals for The Ugly Duckling ballet. And I’m starting to learn how to paint.
Karen Carter, Zeta Nu
Off to the Metropolitan Opera next week! We will be attending two performances at The Metropolitan Opera: Iolanta / Bluebeard’s Castle (double bill) and Don Giovanni!
Susan Esco Chandler and Susan Chandler, Psi
The Tulsa alumnae club is touring the downtown Brady Arts District and eating Mediterranean together on Saturday.
Bethany Wood, Gamma Epsilon
AXO UCLA at the LAC Museum of Art
The Alpha Omega Alpha Alumnae chapter is hosting a Painting with a Twist sisterhood event!
Kelly Cardova, Zeta Rho
I’m taking a painting class!
Jacilyn Kennedy, Gamma Tau
The OKC Rho Rho Alumnae Chapter will celebrate MacDowell Month at the Oklahoma Art Museum. We will be having drinks and appetizers at the cafe and enjoying their “Fakes & Forgeries in the Art World” exhibit!
Samara Terrill, Gamma Tau
I will be volunteering and attending “A Needlepoint Love Story: Chapter 2″ at Fort Worth’s Thistle Hill Mansion (February 25 – March 1).
Christine Borand, Zeta Nu
On our Facebook page, virtual chapter Pi Omega Pi has been listing something weekly pertaining to appreciation of the fine arts, such as: a link to lyre music or artwork featuring lyres, carnations etc., along with something about the artists of each piece.
Carol Lutz, Epsilon Chi
…and Lee Anne Romberg White of Tau chapter is doing a special project:
I have decided to celebrate MacDowell Month by sharing the work of women artists through posts on facebook, twitter, tumblr and Pinterest. Please feel free to follow along and to share your own work with me @leeannewhite.
It doesn’t stop there; you can view some great photos of sisters painting, at concerts or at the theatre on Instagram.
Whatever you decided to do, we hope you had fun celebrating our artistic heritage and MacDowell Month!
Loyally, The Ritual Specialist Team
By Liz Ragland, Gamma Tau
I can’t pretend that it’s not true. It’s not a dirty secret or anything to be embarrassed about so I’m just going to put it out there: I’m kind of obsessed with all of the things that remind me of Alpha Chi.
I’m taking a detour from the typical ritual-themed post and borrowing a trick from Buzzfeed- a list! There is no sensational title or pictures of boy bands, or cats (or boy bands with cats) just an honest list of why our symbols, rituals, traditions, and history remind me of our common bond as sisters. Next time you see a red carnation, lyre, or a lyrebird out in the wild I hope you’ll think of our sisterhood!
- Red carnations are everywhere – If you have ever been tasked with buying red carnations for bid day or any Alpha Chi ceremony you may think that they are hard to find but really, they are almost always available! It’s kind of awkward to get sentimental standing in the floral section at Trader Joe’s, but every time I spot a red carnation it reminds me of the important events in my life as an Alpha Chi. It takes me back to many times I was handed a red carnation: Bid Day, after Initiation, after Hall of Commitment, and after my last formal meeting.
- Lyre spotting makes me smile – Next time you are in museum, go lyre spotting. Our beloved symbol was used in many styles of art and architecture and it’s always fun to count how many times you can find our symbol in art, or even at Walt Disney World. Next time you do spot a lyre, snap a picture be sure to send it to Coffeewithcelia@gmail.com so we can feature it on Facebook!
- Stars are always present (and so are your sisters) – Look up. You may not see the stars right now but they are there. Just like your sisters, stars are always present even when it’s daylight. In good times and in bad, remind yourself that your sisters are always there to help you along your journey even when they might not be totally visible, they are there. Perhaps it’s time you get away from the pollution of light and a busy life and seek them out.
- Fall, full of olive greens and scarlet reds, reminds me of a fresh start – Our sisterhood was founded during the season of olive green and scarlet red. To me, Fall is a fresh start. This is most likely because it’s the beginning of the school year but there is something in the crisp air that reminds me to refocus and reorganize. Do you know what I mean? Perhaps this Fall you can use the season as an opportunity to reboot your attitude, your studies (or your work’s to do list), and your commitment to help your sisters seek the heights.
- Hera Day makes you a better you – Part of being a Real. Stong. Woman. Is donating your time and skills to make someone else’s life better. Every March 1, in honor of our patron goddess Hera, we are called to do work that brings happiness and well-being to others by engaging in projects in our own communities. When was the last time you donated an hour or two of your time to make someone else’s life better? If it’s been too long, find an opportunity! Visit serve.org for some ideas.
- Life would be dull without the arts – Music, dance, theatre, and visual art bring joy to our lives and help us explore new ideas or shine a light on an old idea. Our founders were bonded by their mutual love for music and I think any sister who has experienced a piece of music that gives you goose bumps or brings a tear to your eye understands why their passion for music was so strong and why it’s important to our heritage.
- Who doesn’t want to “seek the heights”? – Our open motto was just as relevant in the late 1800s as it is now. Together, as sisters, we are called to support and inspire each other to seek the heights in every way possible. We seek the heights in our professional and personal lives. We seek the heights so we can continue to grow emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Next time you’re faced with a challenge or stuck in a rut, remember our open motto and reach out for help if you need some support so you can reach your own “height” whatever that may be.
- Because doing a lyrebird impression is awesome – need I say more?
by Ally Hirst
(Theta Sigma, University of North Florida)
“G-O LET’S GO STARZ, G-O LET’S GO!” are some of my favorite words to hear each week. They may be in hushed tones from some of our more shy cheerleaders, or not as fully articulated as some of the teams we compete against, but they sound even more beautiful to me. Did I mention the Starz is the cheerleading team for the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville? Working with the Starz over this past year has brought new meaning to living our Ritual, specifically that of achievement.
Bragging about our two first place titles is definitely fun, but regardless of their awards, these girls have created a new place in my heart. Seeing them achieve so much throughout the season is inspiring: at the beginning of the season they barely make the steps in the right order, and forget about being in sync! But eventually, they perform like pros in front of crowds, smiling from ear to ear. Performing like they have practiced every night brings new light to achievement. We do many more performances than just our two competitions. In fact, we did one almost every week of the season. No matter the stakes, these girls rock the crowd every time.
Don’t let my bubbly post mislead you to think that it’s easy coaching 15 young women with Down Syndrome. They are just like any other kid. They have their moments of not wanting to practice, not wanting to listen, but we work through it, just like any other coach would. I spend a decent amount of practice bringing our wanderers back to the floor, helping up the “wet noodles” (as I like to playfully call them when they decide to melt to the floor and no longer want to dance), and supervising bathroom runs. However, getting hugs over and over from each and every smiling face has me anxiously awaiting practice every Tuesday night.
Whether we’re in a special teams category, or competing against the most decorated teams in the state, these cheerleaders truly embody achievement. They work hard every day to prove that they can do anything anyone else can do. They show me that putting your mind to something can definitely make your dreams come true. And most importantly, they prove to me just how real our Ritual is. Seeing these girls work hard towards achievements, both big and small, is inspiring. Thanks to the Starz for reminding me of Alpha Chi Omega’s Ritual and challenging me to live it every day.
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by Maree Magliocchetti
(Alpha Tau, University of New Hampshire)
The month of May in an even numbered year can only mean one thing… Alpha Chi Omega’s national convention is just around the corner! Yes, in just a couple short months, July 11-14, Alpha Chi Omega women from across the country will gather in Palm Desert, California, to celebrate our heritage and future.
I, for one, am incredibly excited to attend this “Symphony in the Desert.” This will be my second time at a convention. As chapter president of the Alpha Tau Chapter at the University of New Hampshire, I was lucky enough to serve as a delegate in St. Louis at the 2012 National Convention. I can remember feeling excited, anxious and nervous as I boarded the plane for a trip for the furthest west I had ever been. I had no idea what to expect, the only conventions I knew of were hosted by political parties, and I knew that we were definitely not electing the next candidate for United States President (although, that would have been awesome). What I found would change my Alpha Chi Omega experience forever.
During the 2012 National Convention, Diane Blackwelder, Alpha Chi Omega’s National President, said, “It is my wish that every member of Alpha Chi Omega might attend at least one national convention during her lifetime.” I could not agree more. So, what is all the hype about, and what should you expect to experience during the 2014 National Convention?
Ritual like you have never experienced it. Imagine the excitement of the first chapter meeting of the school year, then multiply it by a thousand, and you get Ritual convention style. I witnessed Alpha Chi Omega women from across the nation circle up to embark in the largest performance of our Ritual I had ever seen. Everything you love about our Ritual is exaggerated when at convention. You are linked hand-in-hand with sisters of all ages from all parts of our country. Not to mention, I was able to witness 50- and 75-year pinning ceremonies! I know that myself and many of my sisters would love to receive a 75-year pin from the Alpha Chi Omega National President someday!
A time to learn. The keynote speakers featured at convention are inspirational, entertaining and empowering. In St. Louis, I absolutely loved listening to incredible Alpha Chi Omega alumnae, such as Melissa d’Arabian, speak about her fascinating career and experience on Food Network Star. Luckily, she will be back again this year! In addition, I loved seeing the film Miss Representation. Not only was the film inspiring, but the discussion afterward was as well. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from all the keynote speakers, as well as the breakout sessions. I still remember the session I saw regarding recruitment. It was lovely to discuss, brainstorm and engage in recruitment conversations with other collegiate representatives and headquarters staff. I could not wait to bring home to all of my Alpha Tau sisters the incredible knowledge I had learned.
A chance to give back. I’d say it is safe to say that Alpha Chi Omega women love to give back to the world in anyway possible. At the 2012 National Convention, I noticed many ways sisters could give back. One way was through the Star booth.
Quoting fellow chapter consultant Kristen Donnell, “I love that whether or not you are physically present [at convention], the Star Booth provides the opportunity to honor sisters that have made an impact in each of our lives, all the while contributing to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation!”
Another way sisters were able to give back was through the Domestic Violence Awareness (DVA) walk. Sisters of all ages from different chapters and states around the country gathered the Sunday morning of convention weekend to walk for our national philanthropy. I cannot think of a better way to bond with sisters than through a philanthropic initiative such as the DVA walk.
Amazing meals. It is not just the delicious food that makes a meal at convention so amazing. Along with dessert served at every meal, I fondly remember engaging in conversation and laughter with collegiate and alumnae members alike! A favorite of many attendees is the reunion night, where collegiate and alumnae members from the same chapter of initiation gather for dinner.
Quoting fellow chapter consultant Alaina Cardwell, “I loved the reunion night dinner! My favorite part of convention was just spending time with alumnae from my chapter! Looking back on it now, convention was one of the few times as a collegiate member where I was able to spend quality time with alumnae for several days at a time.”
Many of the friendships I made, to which I still hold dear, started while passing the salad dressing around the dinner table.
Souvenirs. No, I’m not just talking about the swanky toiletries provided by the JW Marriott (although, who can complain about those, right?). It was a good thing I left space in my suitcase, as I flew back to Boston with my bags a bit heavier than when I left. One of my favorite souvenirs was the beautiful tote bag with a lyre on the side that all attendees got to use during convention, and, of course, got to bring home. I still use mine every time I go to the beach! I know what you are thinking, “That bag sounds great, but what about my big and little sisters? I promised I would bring them back some Alpha Chi Omega swag!” In addition, there were so many venders selling everything any Alpha Chi Omega woman could ever want. So, not to fret, there are plenty of opportunities for you to pick out the perfect gift for your big or little sister.
Some of my fondest memories during my Alpha Chi Omega collegiate career were from my time “under the arch” at the 2012 National Convention. I expect this and so much more from the 2014 Alpha Chi Omega National Convention! May 9 is the registration deadline, so sign up if you have not already. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest computer/smartphone/tablet to register for an experience like no other!
I look forward to seeing you in the desert! California, here we come!
Learn more about the 2014 National Convention >
by Christi Tennyson
(Delta Chi, William Woods University)
We talk a lot about living our Ritual in Alpha Chi Omega. Yet, for all of our talk about living our Ritual, I doubt very many of our sisters have consciously drawn a connection between living the Ritual of Alpha Chi Omega and how that relates to risk management and chapter relations and standards. Perhaps you’re even wondering now as you read this—what on earth is she talking about? What is this connection between our Ritual, risk management and CRS?
For starters, effective risk management utilizes the backstops of Alpha Chi Omega. The backstops recognize that in any given situation, we have a choice to make. When we make that choice, we simply have to ask ourselves, “Is there dignity in what I am doing?” If the answer is no, we should reassess the situation and make another choice. If the answer is yes, and we find ourselves consistently in situations in which we can say there is indeed dignity in what we’re doing, chances are the decisions we are making will lead to wisdom, devotion and achievement—the embodiment of our Ritual. So, living the Ritual and risk management are absolutely interconnected.
Likewise, CRS and Ritual are similarly interconnected. As a values-based organization, there is a need to ensure our values are being upheld. There is a need for accountability when we fail to uphold the values of Alpha Chi Omega; for example, when we ask ourselves, “Is there dignity in what I’m doing right now?” and the answer is, “NO!” We had a choice, we made our choice, and chances are, we’re going to wind up being held accountable for that choice. I’m not going to sugarcoat things here—accountability is hard. Nobody likes to be held accountable. Having our personal failures pointed out to us doesn’t exactly rank on anyone’s favorite things to do list. Because of that, there is a very natural and human tendency to want to “shoot the messenger” when we find ourselves being held accountable for something. Yet, despite that tendency, we still have sisters in our collegiate chapters willing to serve on the CRS board—women who understand that they are needed to do something that is absolutely necessary in day-to-day chapter management but is really, really hard sometimes.
Our CRS boards and the women serving on those boards demonstrate wisdom when they reflect upon the actions of individual members and how those individual actions have affected the chapter as a whole. Our CRS board members are the living embodiment of devotion in our Ritual. Through their willingness to risk the ire of their individual sisters for the greater good, they demonstrate devotion to both their chapter sisters and the fraternity at large. This wisdom and devotion bring achievement to our individual members and our collegiate chapters as a whole. From the grade contracts that improve members’ grade point averages and academic success to recognizing and celebrating the individual achievements of their chapter sisters, our chapter CRS boards achieve much while occasionally nudging their chapter sisters along on their journey as they seek the heights. Thus, the connections between living our Ritual, risk management, and chapter relations and standards, while perhaps not immediately obvious, are in fact utterly inseparable from one another.
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by Emeline Hansen
(Alpha, DePauw University)
Earlier this month, when National Ritual Celebration Week was celebrated across the country, I thought back to my first experience with our Ritual. It’s hard to believe that just four years ago, I was initiated into our wonderful sisterhood. At my initiation, I learned the meaning behind our core values and standards. I learned what our founders saw and hoped our fraternity would become. And at that moment, where I was welcomed into lifetime membership in Alpha Chi Omega, all I knew was that I was ready to become the best member I could be.
Throughout my collegiate experience, I had some of the greatest opportunities thanks to my membership. I was able to serve in leadership positions on both the Alpha Chi and Panhellenic executive boards. I saw my chapter celebrate 125 years of sisterhood. I watched my chapter grow and flourish. And as I look back now, as an alumna, I stop and think maybe I had something to do with that—maybe we had something to do with that. Did I leave a positive legacy? Did we?
As a chapter consultant, I constantly think about the best ways to motivate and improve a chapter. Ideas of improving sisterhood, or working on retention, or being more competitive at recruitment are always quick to jump out at me. But under all of those specific areas, for chapters to make improvements, is one general goal—leave a positive legacy.
We’ve always been told to leave something better than when we found out, but do we ever follow through?
When chapters face tough decisions or are at a crossroad to direct the chapter one way or another, members and officers should stop and think how their decisions will affect the legacy of the chapter. Officers can remember our BACKSTOPS while planning safe events. Seniors can commit to remaining active and supportive. The chapter can strategically plan to improve overall chapter academics or sisterhood. The crucial aspect is that we always have the opportunity to leave a positive legacy, and we should follow through with that commitment.
The majority of your time as an Alpha Chi Omega is as an alumna member. It is not just a four-year commitment. Your experience as a collegian is just a small part of the long journey in membership. Alumnae are vital to our chapters and to our organization. Another way to leave a positive legacy at your chapter, and with the organization, is to volunteer as an alumna. For graduating seniors, there is no better way to set a good example of leaving a positive legacy than by volunteering for Alpha Chi at the chapter and/or national level.
Remember your initiation and the legacy passed on to us in Ritual, and now look at the legacy you are leaving or have left with your chapter. Is it one you are proud of?
Standing in our chapter room four years ago at initiation, I heard the legacy of Alpha Chi Omega and the expectations our founders set for my chapter and our organization to follow. As we are charged to live our Ritual every day, as individual members and chapters, we are expected to leave a positive legacy for Alpha Chi. Continually, as I work with chapters, and volunteer in the future, I look forward to being able to ask myself, am I leaving a positive legacy?
So, I pose the same question to all of our chapters and members. Are you leaving a positive legacy?
By Amanda Rich
(Beta Chi, Willamette University)
As collegians, Alpha Chi Omega’s founders sought friendship, artistic society and advancement of the “principles of true womanhood.” Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that? As Alpha Chi Omega members, both collegiate and alumnae, our Ritual goes beyond the actual ceremony. It is what bonds us and links us “heart to heart.” It is our why. The Ritual is the relationship we have to Alpha Chi Omega and to each other.
During National Ritual Celebration Week, the focus can easily fall on our collegiate chapters, but alumnae can participate in a meaningful ritual experience, too.
Review your promises
Read our Ritual and reflect on what you pledged when you joined Alpha Chi Omega. Ask yourself: Are you seeking the heights? As members we promised to practice tolerance and open-mindedness and to strive to distinguish true from false. We pledged to keep a proper balance between the head and the heart and to live to benefit others. We stand for harmony between the member, chapter, and fraternity. And we promised to uphold standards of character, academic interest, financial responsibility, personal development, and leadership.
Put it out there
Wear your badge. Displaying your badge easily opens up natural conversation about Alpha Chi Omega and ties us to our Ritual. You can also post a photo of your badge on a favorite social media platform and use social media to talk about Alpha Chi Omega’s heritage. Talking about our Ritual shares it with others. Write about what our open motto, “together let us seek the heights,” means to you or share a favorite passage of the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega.
Participate in service
You don’t have to be a member of a collegiate chapter to dedicate yourself to others. Volunteer or participate in a fundraiser or domestic violence awareness activity. Buy a stranger in line behind you their morning coffee, donate to a local shelter or to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, or choose another service activity that reminds you of our Ritual.
Gather with sisters
Plan a gathering and incorporate ritual appreciation into your event. Choose red carnations for your centerpiece, display the Symphony, and maybe read a little bit of our Ritual or history with your guests.
Celebrate as part of the interfraternal community
Reach out to another sorority woman you know or go out of your way to make friends with a woman from another organization. Just because a woman isn’t an Alpha Chi Omega, doesn’t mean she doesn’t understand what it means to live by a ritual. We don’t all have the same ritual, but most organizations share the themes of loyalty, friendship, citizenship, and leadership.
Sign off with the Ritual
Incorporate Alpha Chi Omega into your email closing with sisters. Try one of these: Love in the Bond, Loyally in the bond, In the bond, LITB, ITB, or just Loyally.
Do something personal
Recognize our Ritual by doing something that is meaningful to you. You can remember our Ritual in daily life by respecting it and participating in it any way you choose.
Even after the transition to alumnae life, the Ritual of Alpha Chi Omega is very relevant. It is why we are members of Alpha Chi Omega and how we are connected, heart to heart, across the world. As alumnae leaders we are responsible for upholding the sanctity and importance of our Ritual and serve as role models for the collegiate women who will become active, engaged alumnae members who live the Ritual in the future.
Jaime McNutt Bode
(Gamma Tau chapter, Oklahoma City University)
Achieving the heights looks different for each of us. For one woman, it could be landing the perfect job right out of college. For another, it might be traveling the world and helping others. Some may reach the heights when they are blessed with a family of their own, or when they finally discover the thing they want to do most, that thing that fills their lives with purpose and meaning.
For others, the road to the heights is bumpy. Some of us aren’t even sure what our heights will look like; we’re just trying to stay on the journey. Occasionally, we stumble. And sometimes, we think we’re on the right path, only to find later we need to try a different direction.
When you graduate college, it feels like the world expects you to have everything figured out. When I graduated, I definitely felt that pressure. I searched for the perfect job for months, finally securing a coveted position editing books. My wedding was three months away. My fiancé and I had already set up house. Everything was going according to plan.
But where’s the lesson in life if things go perfectly? My job was incredibly stressful; I was working 60- to 80-hour weeks, spending most of my spare time worried about emails, phone calls, edits that needed to be made. And marriage became difficult, to say the least. My husband had been laid off from a job he really wanted, and he wasn’t sure where to go from there. I was stressed and angry all the time, and so was he.
My husband, who has a history of ADD, was later diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder. I was officially diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s not surprising there was trouble in paradise.
Luckily for me, throughout this time, I had stayed active with my local alumnae chapter and worked with my collegiate chapter of initiation as an advisor. This gave me the opportunity to help out with initiation ceremonies, and nothing could have been better for me. The story of our beloved red carnation remains my favorite part of our Ritual because of its beautiful message—that many stumble on their way to the heights, but we have the power to help those we meet along the way. Together, we reach the heights. This message was a balm to my hurting soul. This message gave me the courage to keep going and try something new.
My husband had stumbled on his journey. Storms had raged, and he lost his way. I too had stumbled. I was no longer on the right path, and I wasn’t sure where to go. My best friends, who also happen to be my sisters, supported us both, offering listening ears, sounding boards, shoulders to cry on, and encouragement that we could make it. Together, we began seeking our way.
We haven’t achieved the heights yet. But we’re on the path. I left my job, and we moved to New York City so I could attend graduate school and get the career I really wanted. With my husband’s and sisters’ support, I began therapy for my OCD and discovered I have a passion for mental health awareness. The more I talk openly about my disorder and experiences, the more I find that everyone is affected by mental health in some way. I started a blog about my OCD experience to help others, which my sisters have been kind enough to share with others. I can’t even describe how amazing that feels—knowing that my sisters support me and are helping in whatever way they can to help me reach the heights. At an OCD conference, I met another sister who shared in my experiences, and we’ve been able to stay connected and support each other, even from a distance. It’s so beautiful, realizing that sisters I know and sisters I don’t are all in this together, that our bond and our promise unite us and lead us to help one another on the journey of life.
Together, we will reach the heights. I’ll see you on the mountain.
Read more about Jaime’s journey with OCD at www.ocdforreal.wordpress.com. Follow Coffee with Celia on Facebook and Twitter.