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Generosity, Service and Love: Ritual Reflections from the Day of Giving

On Tuesday, April 4, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation launched its first-ever Day of Giving.

Nearly 800 gifts with over 550 individual sisters and friends of Alpha Chi Omega contributed to the campaign. 119 collegiate chapters donated $18.85 or more and 55 alumnae chapters were represented through alumnae donations.

Thanks to headquarters and foundation staff, sisters and Giving Day Ambassadors, this was a huge success!

We appreciate “every little service rendered” by our ambassadors. We asked some sisters who served as ambassadors for Ritual reflections based on their involvement with the campaign.

Their thoughts on their participation, our sisterhood and Ritual are inspiring.




“…And to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.”

I had the honor of serving as an ambassador for Alpha Chi Omega’s 2017 Day of Giving campaign. In reaching out to sisters from my home chapter, I thought of this special line in our symphony. Alpha Chi Omega has given me so much, especially in the form of sincere lifelong friends – some of whom will be part of my wedding next year. I felt it was the perfect time to send forth my own chords of unselfishness in hopes to give another sister the opportunity to experience that same sincere friendship for herself.

– Katie Wyrick, Beta Delta

When I think about Day of Giving and how it connects to our symphony, I can’t help but reflect on the line, “to strike on the lyre of the universe only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace.” There is something so powerful about the thought of striking on the “lyre of the universe,” and throughout Alpha Chi Omega’s Day of Giving I think we did just that.

The purpose of this campaign from the Foundation perspective was two-fold: of course we wanted to raise money for the Foundation and Foundation-supported programs, but we also wanted to celebrate the amazing work that Alpha Chi Omega has done for over 130 years to create a sisterhood of empowered real, strong women.

We are an amazing organization and I think it’s just as important to celebrate that within our sisterhood, and with the world, as it is to support it through time and money. Fundraising can be challenging, especially when it’s all online and it can be difficult to feel like you’re making an impact, but throughout our 36-hour Day of

Giving campaign it certainly felt like Alpha Chi Omegas all over the world had such a strong presence in helping us share why it’s so important to have programs and initiatives to support our members that are created by women and for women.

This presence only continues to amaze me when I think about the fact that we raised over $105,000 in 36 hours from 500 donors – if that isn’t empowering I don’t know what is!

– Katie Sherrill, Alpha

“There is a sisterhood whose equal can’t be found. In this loyal bond together we are bound…if you ever need us, we’ll be standing by to give you all we got, all for Alpha Chi.”

Lyrics from one of my favorite Alpha Chi Omega songs, “There Is A Sisterhood,” touched me deeply as a collegian and still ring true decades later as an alumna. I stay involved, donate to the Foundation, and leaped at the opportunity to be a Day of Giving ambassador because I want to give back to the organization that has given me more than I can say and pay it forward so women for generations-to-come can have the same priceless experience of sisterhood and empowerment programming.

– Anne Teaford-Cantor, Alpha Psi

“…to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity…”

I was honored to serve as a campaign ambassador for the Day of Giving. In particular, I chose to support and recruit donors for Social Excellence Training, an amazing program that offers an educational experience for collegiate recruitment officers and their advisors. Like the women who attend this event, I give of my time, talents and treasures in the spirit of love, unselfishness and sincerity. I give to preserve the experience that is Alpha Chi Omega for generations of sisters to come. I could not be more grateful for all of the volunteers and donors to the Fraternity and Foundation!

– Laura Knobel, Iota Alpha

I volunteered as an ambassador for Day of Giving because of the Alpha Chi Omega sisters in my life who have inspired me and who I continue to aspire to be. I fundraised for the Fraternity’s newest program, Women & Wisdom, as I truly believe it exemplifies our mission to create lifelong opportunities of learning for our members. Collegians are able to interact and seek mentorship from sisters across the globe who have expertise in their desired career path. As an alumna, I have used the program myself to learn more about my own field. After just my first session with my mentor, I was absolutely thrilled with all we had discussed! She had a wealth of knowledge that I continue to learn from beyond our monthly one-on-one phone call sessions and a passion to share her experiences with me having worked in the similar professional roles. Because of our sisters’

donations on Day of Giving, Women & Wisdom will continue to be a great success – for collegians and alumnae alike – demonstrating what it means to be a part of a lifelong sisterhood.

– Rachel Haley, Omicron

The Alpha Chi Omega Day of Giving, to me, was a true demonstration of devotion. As both an ambassador and as someone who was able to work behind-the-scenes with our Foundation team to set up the day, the Day of Giving was especially memorable to me. The devotion of the whole Foundation team was evident in all the work they did leading up to the day, and the entire [larger] ambassador team was so devoted to success in our goals! Through the collective devotion to ensuring the future of our Fraternity, we made history for Alpha Chi Omega, and hopefully inspired many young women who are just beginning their Alpha Chi journeys to become just as devoted as this amazing group of real, strong women!

– Lauren Wake, Beta Nu

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How Educators Live Our Ritual

For this Coffee with Celia post, we are featuring sisters who work in education.
These sisters in education have reflected on the themes “wisdom, devotion, achievement” as well as parts from the symphony and how our values impact the way they relate to their students.

________________________

Wisdom may sound like an obvious choice for an educator to reflect upon how our Ritual impacts daily life. When I teach medical students, dental students and graduate students, I am not only imparting wisdom to the students, but much more.

I want them to reflect, to evaluate and to critically think about the matter. In preparation for teaching, I often learn new facts and ideas about the subject at hand.

My style of teaching is an interactive one, whether at the lab bench or in a more formal setting. I frequently invite dialogue, which often leads to a student bringing forth a new perspective or a challenge to old ways of thinking.

Wisdom is not something static, it is constantly shifting and evolving in ever-changing, beautiful ways. We all have wisdom to share and to gain, no matter our age or our occupation.

Carol Lutz, PhD
Epsilon Chi chapter, UNC-Chapel Hill
Associate Professor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences-New Jersey Medical School
Assistant Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

 ________________________

As the Interfraternity Council advisor at the University of Maryland, it might seem strange to think that the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega inspires me and helps me do my work on a daily basis. I am constantly surrounded by men; clearly I am not a member of any of their organizations, yet membership in my own helps me find patience, understanding and kindness with the students I work with.

To see all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may.

This line of the symphony coupled with our value of wisdom centers me in my work. Each day is a conscious journey into understanding others more completely: who they are, where they come from, how they contribute to their classroom, chapter or campus community.

This line and value remind me to be patient, stay curious and above all – let the student share their life with me in a non-judgmental, purely curious, accepting way. Each student, fraternity man or sorority woman, comes with a unique story and background that informs who they are and how they show up in my office.

The symphony reminds me to hit the “reset button” with each student, to give them the undivided attention and care that they each deserve – no matter how busy the semester gets, how many meetings or events are on the calendar. This, in turn, helps remind them that they also owe this attitude and mindset to their brothers and sisters.

The Symphony helps me create a culture of care for the individual, to see the many different fibers of our massive community, and see the amazing work students individually and collectively contribute to the Greek community at Maryland.

Christine Licata
Alpha Omicron, The Ohio State University
IFC Advisor, University of Maryland

 ________________________

Oftentimes, academic goals are expressed purely in terms of achievement – that is, getting the highest grade, attaining a certain class ranking or setting the curve. One of the most important and under-emphasized parts of our Alpha Chi value system is our focus on a trifecta of values – wisdom, devotion AND achievement.

While excelling in the classroom is laudable, I try my best to encourage students to simultaneously develop all three of these values, and not just focus on the achievement part.

For college students, it’s a disservice to only impart facts and route information. Instead, professors and lectures should develop broader understandings, and prompt students to develop wisdom and an intellectual curiosity (as opposed to just knowledge).

It’s the wisdom — through scholarly devotion – that ultimately leads to achievement.

Robyn Stiles
Pi Chapter, UC Berkeley
Doctoral Student & Instructor, Louisiana State University

 ________________________

When I think about my role as a teacher these words from our symphony come to my mind: “to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.”

As a teacher, I consistently show my love for my students. I work at a school where there are many children from poor and/or broken homes, and I may be the only person that shows them love that day.

There may be times that I am tired or frustrated with my students; however, I have to remain selfless to ensure that their educational needs are met each day.

I also remain sincere with my students, fellow educators and parents regarding my expectations and goals for the students in my classroom.

Ashley Talbert
Theta Sigma Chapter, University of North Florida
Second Grade Teacher

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How to Live Out the Little r in Our Ritual

Corrinne WolfeBy Corinne Wolfe
Zeta Eta, Bradley University

Most people only consider the big R when they hear the word ritual, our initiation ceremony. It’s the “event” that supposedly defines us as Alpha Chi Omegas, and to an extent that is true. Without that beacon, we don’t always know where to point our Alpha Chi compass. It’s what makes us unique, the embodiment of our name, defines our bond, etc.

I, on the other hand, often consider ritual to be mostly made up of the little r; the one that resonates in my day to day life and seeps into my being whether it’s when I am walking out the door into the world, or into chapter on a Tuesday night.

The little r is what defines me to the rest of my world. It’s what my husband and our two boys see; it’s how my friends, colleagues and my community perceive me. Little r is what drives my behaviors. Little r is our shared values of friendship, leadership, learning and service; which continue far past the day you put on a cap and gown. Little r is why I strive to be the best version of myself every day and to learn from the mistakes of yesterday so that I am stronger tomorrow.

The little r is also why I continue to advise my local chapter. Little r is the journey we all take in Alpha Chi Omega. I always marvel each spring as graduation nears. As our seniors prepare to take on the world, I pause to reflect on their first day as members, of bid days come and gone. I remember how unsure some of them were of themselves (and the few who were overly sure). I think of the time between then and now, of the majors changed, the semesters abroad, the loved ones sometimes lost, the bonds that tightened and ones that broke apart. Most importantly though, I think of the women they become. As those girls who entered our chapter each fall prepare to leave four short years later, I am amazed at the real, strong women they become. Women who possess the strength, grace and authenticity of our Founders.

So as another year approaches and I prepare myself for another marathon recruitment season (which at my age requires a lot more Starbucks and under eye concealer with each passing fall), I feel the little r in the air and it’s electric. It’s sisters embracing after a summer away, it’s an executive board with sights set high on a new school year and it’s the excitement of welcoming a new group of women into our sisterhood to share our bond and continue our legacy. Being part of their journey reminds me why I chose Alpha Chi Omega, literally, a century ago. It bridges the little r of our sisterhood to the big R of our Ritual and reminds me of that amazing thing that brings us all together.

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Living Our Ritual in the Peace Corps

Aug_IMG_0056By Kim Kelly
Kappa Xi, University of West Florida

Our Symphony can be applied to so much of the Peace Corps experience. Every day I saw “beauty in the common things of life,” because everything else was stripped away. Living in a rural village where many people didn’t have electricity or running water, TVs or iPads, or extravagant toys for the little ones; I saw people who lived a simple, common life. And I realized that even without all these things, they were happy and loving, and there was true beauty in that. PeaceCorps

Another line from our Symphony, which rings so true for my PC experience, is “to see and appreciate all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may. In this case, her badge would be her culture. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be completely immersed into a culture that is so far from your own. There were times when I would experience something and think to myself, “No way. No way is this actually happening!” For example, during the ceremony where we volunteers were paired to our host families, I experienced oralating for the first time. This is where the women come from out of nowhere and circle you while dancing and making a very loud sound, which is made by moving your tongue very quickly back and forth (it’s not easy). It was so unusual and something I had never seen before; all of these women dancing and making this funny, loud noise, but it was beautiful. There were so many incidents where I was able to appreciate the culture here. And throughout my experiences the people of Botswana reciprocated. They made me feel welcomed and loved, always referring to me as their daughter or auntie. Regardless of our “badge,” we were able to appreciate all that is noble in another.

Aug_IMG_1128_4Although I could come up with a relatable moment for every line of the Symphony, this one sticks out to me the most: “to shed the light of love and friendship round me.” The mission of Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship, and I think that’s exactly what the Symphony is saying. Although I found great joy in the projects that were successful at my site, such as a boy’s empowerment camp (GLOW Camp) or the after-school peer educators club, the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my service was the friendships I was able to create with my students and the love that I both shared and received. The moments of learning traditional games from Gontle and Tono, or when Thati would come over to show me how well he did on his math exam, or when Lentle and Kelebogile would tell me about their latest crushes and then cover their faces with their hands, in spells of giggles, if I dared to tell the boys… These were my favorite moments. These were the moments when the light of love and friendship was glowing brightest, when I knew my Peace Corps service was worth it, when I knew I had created relationships that would last a lifetime.

Lastly, in the last line of the Symphony, “to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity,” these are all such important traits for a Peace Corps volunteer to carry. The thing is, as Alpha Chis we already carry these traits; Peace Corps just gives you the chance to exemplify them. They say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever learn to love – and that couldn’t be truer – but it is so worth it. You will learn so much about yourself, you will grow in unimaginable ways and you will have the opportunity to live out the Symphony in the most rewarding way possible.

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Buy Licensed to Give Sisterhood

4-19-13 Alpha Chi Dallas-Web-130By: Selby Werner, Epsilon Psi

Let’s begin with a simple question: what is Greek licensing? (And why are we talking about it in a Ritual themed blog post?? Don’t worry, we will get there.) Essentially, Greek licensing is a formal process for Alpha Chi Omega and other Greek-letter organizations to protect the intellectual property assets of the organization. Since the trademarks of Alpha Chi Omega are the property of the organization, they must be controlled and deserve to be protected.

When you close your eyes and think of Alpha Chi Omega, what do you see? I’m sure we all have very different experiences and memories that come to mind, but in addition to those we all see the same symbols: our Greek letters – ΑΧΩ, the lyre, the red carnation, a pearl, perhaps even our open motto, “Together Let Us Seek the Heights!”  I want to reiterate that… that we all imagine the same symbols. Despite there being more than 130 collegiate chapters and over 130 years of Alpha Chi history, we all imagine the same symbols when we think of our beloved sisterhood. Why is that?

The answer is two-fold. The first reason is, of course, the fact that those are the emblems our Founders decided upon when establishing this organization. Each was chosen deliberately and each has its own special significance.  The second reason being that these symbols have been maintained and respected as emblems of the organization since its inception. One of the primary ways they have been maintained is through proper control via trademark licensing; by monitoring and controlling how the marks are being used commercially by vendors, Alpha Chi is able to ensure that they are only being used in ways that are appropriate representations of our sisterhood. Consequently, the integrity and value of the marks are preserved for future generations of sisters to enjoy.

There is no doubt in my mind that every Alpha Chi Omega sister can remember the first set of letters she received. It’s a moving experience; that special moment when she is able to proclaim to the world in big bold letters, quite literally, that she is a member of Alpha Chi Omega! Those letters mean something. They represent the truest nature of our organization – our heritage; our Ritual; our values; and our sisters, past, present, and future.

Too often though, that is unfortunately forgotten. It’s too easy to take the letters we wear for granted and forget that they represent something bigger than our four-year collegiate experiences.  My call to you is this: to remember that those marks have a meaning beyond yourOLP_Logo_RGB own experience in Alpha Chi Omega.

Alpha Chi Omega’s licensing program is fundamentally a process through which product quality control is managed. Buying licensed products is one of the easiest ways to help reinforce our organizations’ values and make sure our Ritual it is protected for generations to come! Luckily for all of us, Alpha Chi Omega has made it easy to participate in this form of Ritual protection by establishing their licensing program. Give the gift of our sisterhood by buying items that have been approved.

For more about licensing and where your chapter can find licensed vendors, visit greeklicensing .com.

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How Ritual Can Inspire Healthy Financial Decisions

Meredith_blog

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.

Achievement
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.

Financial Responsibility
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.

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10 Ways We Celebrated Hera Day

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.

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega (@axo_wwu) on


2. Chapter members at William and Mary volunteered at the Heritage Humane Society.

A photo posted by William & Mary ??O (@axo_wm) on

 

3. Utah State University had fun brightening the day of Legacy House residents.

A photo posted by McKenzie (@kenziegunter) on

 

4. Indiana State Alpha Chis served food at the Haute Light House Mission.

In honor of Hera Day our sisters volunteered to serve food at the Terre Haute Light House Mission! What a great way to spend Hera Day!! #heraday #axo #litb

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega (@isu_alphachiomega) on

 

5. Sisters from UNC Chapel Hill made cards for patients at the Duke Children’s Hospital.

Our VP Recruitment Kelly is delivering the cards we made for pediatric patients at Duke Children’s Hospital! #axounc #heraday #misscc

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega | UNC-CH (@achio_unc) on

 

6. Oregon State members added some cheer to everyone’s day by handing out red carnations on campus.

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega at OSU? (@oregonstate_axo) on

 

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.

A photo posted by Cayden Kuhler (@_ckuhl) on

 

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!

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How Our Sisters Celebrate

MacDowell1Happy 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 LA County Museum of Art

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.MacDowell3

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

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8 Reasons Why I Love Lyres, Red Carnations and Lyrebirds (and why you should too)

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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!Lyre spotting
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. MusicWho 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.
  8.  Because doing a lyrebird impression is awesome – need I say more?
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    Seeing Ritual in the Starz

    Ally and Teamby 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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