WHAT’S NEXT? by INTERNATIONAL HISTORIAN, LINDA BULLINGTON

After the New Year holiday, for most people, Valentine’s Day is the next big thing. For Sigma Phi Gamma members, the next big thing after the New Year is their Province Meeting!

What ‘s a Province Meeting? It’s a weekend of a little business, a little service, and lots of fun with your sorority Sisters! There are always meetings and meals, and usually skits and entertainment.

Province meetings happen once a year. Once you are in a Chapter as a member, you see your Chapter Sisters regularly, but Province time brings you together with Sisters from all of the Chapters in your region. Extended friendships are formed and you look forward to spending time together each year.

If you are looking for a way to help others in your community, if you are looking for a way to make more friends, Sigma Phi Gamma could be just for you!  Reach out and contact us if you’re interested, we’ll put you in touch with members in your area. You could be helping your community and making new friends in no time!

Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!

TURNING CHAOS INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL by JILL PYCLIK, INTERNATIONAL SERVICE SECRETARY

Have you ever walked down the aisle of a store at Christmas time and marveled at all the wonderful decorations that would look perfect in your home? Then you do what most people do … look at the price tag. Shock and disbelief come over you … Really? Then that thought pops into your head: I could make that and at a much lower cost! So you get on YouTube, Pinterest, and assorted other sites to see how to make that item and what supplies you will need. So back to the store you go, in search of those things that will give you that satisfied and proud feeling, full of good intentions and that “I’ll show you attitude.”

I love to craft. From scrapbooks, to deco mesh wreaths and trees, to making cards, photo albums, and specialty gifts, to mention a few, I’ve made them all. My “craft room” is full of shelving units and cabinets, filled with supplies and ideas, not to mention all the tubs of materials in my basement and garage. When I am making items to sell at a craft show or for someone else, I really get into it. There is stuff everywhere! I’ve told my friends that it looks like the local hobby store threw up in my craft room!  There are tubs stacked on tubs as I look for specific color of deco mesh, certain type of ribbon, or one decoration that will complete my project. I know it is here somewhere!

It looks, and sometimes feels, like total chaos. But through the chaos, there is something beautiful that comes out in the end. I am proud of my creations and so are the people to whom they are going.

Our lives sometimes seem like total chaos. We are looking for one person, one job, one circumstance that will make our lives complete. We drive ourselves to the point of being totally stressed out. The completeness we seek seems to be moving farther and farther away and instead of being happy with what we have made of our lives, we feel completely out of control. I know it is here somewhere …

I have learned from crafting that after all the pondering, re-doing, and adjusting things, sometimes you just have to walk away. No, it may not be perfect, but it is definitely good enough, it is satisfying, and it is something to be proud of.

Our sorority Sisters do not, or should not, expect perfection from us. Our relationships with them are satisfying, we cherish them, and we are proud of them. They look past the chaos in our lives and see the beautiful finished product. We love them because of this. They are helping to craft our lives into something beautiful.

THINKING AHEAD by INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, LINDY HEATH

At our community progressive dinner New Year’s Eve, as we were sitting around the table talking about all of our upcoming travels and how busy everyone was, a good friend asked me, “Why are you traveling so much?” I explained to her that most of my travels were due to my commitment to Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority and that started a major discussion.
Her comment was, well why not just stay around here and do things. I had to laugh to myself because I do spend hours staying around here doing things with my own Chapter and working in the community where I live, but I told her that Sorority goes way beyond just here.
When I go and spend time with my Sisters in other parts of the country, I come home feeling like I have been given a shot of energy! Hearing what some of those Chapters do and the efforts they make to serve their communities without banners or headlines in the papers, without awards or gold medals, and certainly not without enough praise, I am so deeply humbled. These Sisters of mine are amazing, giving, caring women and I wouldn’t give up a chance to spend time with them for anything unless I was forced to by circumstances beyond my control.
My own Omega Province is coming up in a few short weeks. I sent in my reservations six months ago because I knew it was going to be a time to share renewed friendships, ideas for events, and quiet chats with Sisters who have so much to pass on to us with less years in Sigma Phi Gamma. I would NOT miss this opportunity and I am urging you to take advantage of your upcoming Province Meeting. It’s a time to spend with your Sisters, your friends for a lifetime, and feel that bond between you.
We laugh, we shop, we shed a tear for our new Zeta Chapter members, we rejoice at the new Pledges and members coming in, and we get the business done that is necessary. We also give back through our Service Projects and be inspired by their representatives. But it’s that feeling you bring back along with the memories that carry us through until we can all be together again. There is nothing like it. That’s what I explained to my friend.
My Sisters inspire me to do better and they lift me up when I am down. I would travel the earth for them and to be further inspired by their good works, their smiles and their hugs.

LIFELONG LEARNING by INTERNATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, DEB JURACICH

As a teacher, education has high merit. Learning is something that is important and exciting. Does learning end when you take that last final or turn in that last paper? I say no! Learning is lifelong! Each day is an opportunity to learn something! That challenge is invigorating! What can I learn today? Some days we learn a lot, others maybe just a bit of information, but all is important. Learning helps to broaden our understanding of the world that we live in, opens doors of opportunity, and improves our quality of life.
Mental Habits that Support Lifelong Learning:
• Risk taking
• Humble self-reflection
• Solicitation of opinions
• Careful Listening
• Openness to new ideas
Learning something new, whether it be a new skill or expanding our knowledge base can be scary! It can also be a humble, life changing opportunity. What are you going to learn today?

OH THE PLACES WE WILL GO! by INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, DONNA COLLINS

Have you ever been so busy that you run to meet yourself – coming and going? I’m sure that’s how everyone feels at the start of a new year. Organizing, hearing our own self-talk about eating better, walking more, drinking more water, etc., and then there is the calendar! As I look at January, February, and March I can see all the fabulous meetings we’re going to have with our Provinces and I’m so excited. Then, I’m a little sad. I know your International Council members would like to be at every Province meeting – but that’s just not possible.

I have a funny little set of memories about Province meetings: No matter the past International Officer that I talk with, I always ask, what was your favorite part of being on Council? The answer is always the same: The friendships and meeting all the women at their Province meetings – and then seeing them again (and again – year after year) at convention. When I was new on the International Council I wasn’t sure that this would be my answer. You see I travel so much for work – I’m with artists, educators, business leaders, and legislators all the time – every single day – and my refuge is often being alone or at home with my husband. I could not imagine if I were asked that question that my answer would ever be: going to Province meetings (driving an hour to the airport from my home, flying somewhere, driving to a hotel, reviewing reports – you know the drill).

But then, back when I started asking that question (What was your favorite part of being on Council?) I was new and had not yet fully realized the many women whom I would meet only because I was at their Province meeting. These women who I call Sisters, friends, and often mentors – are in my life because we shared one thing – Sigma Phi Gamma!

Our friendships start in a variety of ways:

• The Province meeting cocktail hour where 30 women are sitting around a hotel room with two beds and one desk chair – all very comfortable as if the space were a grand salon.

• The huddle in the corner after Saturday night dinner where you laugh at silly stories until you are ready to pee your pants.

• Or, the moment you realize you’ve raised your hand and volunteered again, knowing your husband and kid are going to kick your butt when you get home (but secretly they are very proud of you and support your efforts).

So as we go about our busy lives, managing expectations and calendars, I hope you will be in the moment at your Province meeting. Take advantage of not answering your cell phone, don’t play a silly game on your tablet, and don’t spend too much time on business (just enough but not too much) so that you can enjoy the company of your Sisters.

Share stories, laugh, play cards, enjoy a beverage or two, and soak in the love of every woman at your Province meeting. Find the links of friendship and extend your best piece of jewelry – the friendship chain!

A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION by INTERNATIONAL HISTORIAN, LINDA BULLINGTON

The decorations are packed away. The New Year’s Resolution is already been broken… that’s ok, don’t lose any sleep over it, you had the best of intentions at the time…
Now, while you’re inside due to the cold of winter, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the major events you’ve had in the past year. Are there photos that need to be printed or organized? Maybe a scrapbook or online book to create? It’s the perfect time to work on those kinds of projects.
Pictures help us remember events. Too often, we take the pictures but don’t ever do anything with them. Most of us have a box of forgotten photos, they never made it into an album or book where they could be viewed and enjoyed, they’re just taking up space in some closet, forgotten and unappreciated…
Can you easily look back on the history of your family or special times with your friends? Make now is the time you, “take the bull by the horns”, and start to work on preserving those moments. These days, it’s so easy to download your photos and create an online book and there are always discounts to help make it less costly. Check out Groupon in your area, they’re a good place to save on pricing.
Looking through the finished project you’ll be glad you took the time to organize and preserve your history! You’ll have a History Book to browse through at your leisure, to share and enjoy, and you’ll be doing away with stored items at the same time! “Two birds with one stone!”