Funny Story from Robin Pelton-International Vice President

I recently reread a funny story that my sister sent me. Nothing Sorority related, I just thought I’d share it with you. I hope it tickles you as much as it tickled me. I actually laughed out loud because I have been through this. I expect most of us have….
This past weekend I went shopping with my daughter and sister and bought some clearance items. So today, of course I want to wear this one purple V-neck t-shirt I got for $2.50. Quite the bargain huh? Well I don’t know about you, but when you get something new, I like to try to wear it right away. It kind of makes me feel better. Especially since I am a slob, and always dribble some sort of food or drink on my shirts.

Well, after the shower today, getting dressed, I put on a bra, and then the new purple t-shirt. Oops! It’s a bit too low. So I had purchased some camisoles recently. You know the kind I’m talking about, the stretchy ones with the built in shelf bras…………did you know those act very much like sports bras? Unless your “girls” are small, perky or filled with saline, they are gonna get squished in these shirts. It’s almost worse than sports bras. At least with the sports bras you have more material in the “girl” area. You can “expand your horizons” a bit more, where, with these tight, stretchy camisoles, there is no give up front. So I thought, well maybe with the t-shirt over the camisole, you won’t notice the 4 inch roll that runs vertically about 9 inches below my collarbone, and horizontally, goes all around the front of me, including way under my armpits. You know, kind of like those blow up flotation rings that children use in water? Although, I have to say, it really didn’t go around my back, but then again, I can’t twist quite that far around anymore to get a good enough view. So the rule is, if I can’t see it, no one else should, right?

Anyway, I am getting off track here………..where was I. Oh yeah; I put the t-shirt on, and guess what? It’s VERY noticeable. It really looks like a blow up flotation ring is under my t-shirt. I can’t have that now, can I? So now I have to take the stupid camisole off. The trick is, though, not to throw my shoulders out of socket while doing it. Did you know stretchy material doesn’t breathe well? I now know that because, in taking the camisole off, it got stuck, my arms flailing in the air, the camisole is off my body, but still, somehow, connected to my shoulders, the “girls” are peeking out from this stretchy material, or perhaps I should say, oozing out, and it’s not a pretty sight (do you think they put superglue in these items of clothing or something?), and I am stuck, and now I cannot breathe. I’m being smothered by underwear. What will I tell my children? How can I explain this one to my husband so he won’t think my mother dropped me on my head as a baby…..several times? How will my obituary read?
So, trying not to huff and puff too much and use up too much energy, because we all know using up energy uses oxygen, and I can’t afford to lose too much air right now, so, carefully, I pull this stretchy torture device over my head, but it’s VERY stretchy, and no matter how hard I pull, there seems to be more fabric, and it’s still wedged…..back to huffing and puffing regardless of the consequences. I manage to get it off, almost knocking my head on the sink in the whiplash that I experienced removing it.

Needless to say, I put back on the bra, put back on the new purple v-neck t-shirt. You know what? A little cleavage never hurt anyone.
Have a great day!!

Spring? From Linda Bullington, International Service Secretary

Spring?…
Ah Spring, warm, sunny weather…maybe in some places… but not so much in Washington state. We have cold rainy Springs.The rare warm sunny day is a treat.
Spring season brings outdoor sports, my 2 grandsons play LaCrosse & my granddaughter plays softball, that’s at least 3 outdoor games a week if not more.
To be ready for this I have to bring a Coleman chair- the rigid kind cuz I’m getting older & can’t get out of those chairs that fold up into the bag any more, they sit too low… a stadium seat, a rain shelter for the reeeeally wet days, a golf umbrella for the misty days, a blanket, coat & lined gloves for the cold days, yeah, I think that’s everything I think I’m ready to watch their games. Wait, what…it’s the rare sunny day?? Awww I can’t see, it’s too sunny…I need sunglasses….ah my face feels warm, this is nice- hours later…oh no, my scalp & face are sunburned…better remember to add sunscreen & sunglasses to the trunk…
Why is my mileage per gallon decreasing so much lately?! could it be because my trunk has become a storage unit?!
Yep, that’s spring sports in Washington!

A Mother’s Heart and a Sister’s Love – Donna Collins, TJ’s Mom

As Mother’s Day approaches it is bitter sweet for me. Our oldest son TJ died on April 26, 2010. He was 31 years old. TJ was smart, articulate, an avid reader, funny, a great singer, and a story telling kid who loved his family and friends. When TJ died a part of me died. I stopped wearing a watch because time just wasn’t that important anymore. I stopped dreaming about lots of things because the pain was too deep and TJ’s death was just too much for me to handle.
In the days, weeks, years that followed TJs death I slowly realized that I couldn’t stop living because after all I’m fortunate to have two living sons, Josh (36) and Ryan (24), who are healthy and happy. I am still their Mother, I still have an obligation to keep making new memories with them. And, we also have a grandgirl (Cierra who is 13) and a grandboy (Chance who is 8) who keep life interesting and fun. Can’t forget about Josh’s wife, Deidre, who is like having my own daughter.
It’s an abnormal way of living with one portion of your heart frozen in time longing to see your dead son’s face, hear him laugh, and hug him tight just one more time. The other part of my heart is filled with love and admiration for the other boys’ smiles, stories of success, and plans for the future. My heart fills up – sometimes with tears, sometimes with joy, and always with love.
My husband and family continue to grieve and miss TJ. We also try to help each other by keeping TJ’s memory alive – telling stories and sharing photos. We have birthday cake on his birthday. Last time he was at our house he left a pair of shoes by the door. All these years later the shoes sit by the door where he left them. Those shoes bring me comfort. His leather jacket hangs on the back of the chair in our office where he left it. When I sit in that chair I can lean back and feel the collar of his jacket, it feels good. While all of this sounds like I must surely need counseling or even something bigger – I’m more fortunate than many women who have lost their children too early. I have Sigma Phi Gamma in my life. I have Sisters who will listen, talk, share, sit quietly to hold my hand, and help me live through the birthday, anniversary of death, holidays, and just plain awful days when the pain is too intense.
There are many reasons why women seek out an organization like Sigma Phi Gamma – what I know for sure is that had I not been a Sigma Phi in 2010 when TJ died I’m quite certain I could not have come out of the spiral of grief. A card would arrive out of the blue to say ‘hello, I’m thinking of you. Love, Your Sister.’ A group of Sisters would say, ‘let’s do a girls weekend, we deserve some time away.’ And we went. The phone would ring the day before TJ’s birthday and a Sister would be calling to see what I was up to and invite me for coffee.
Sigma Phi Gamma is an organization of women coming from all walks of life, with varying skills and interests, who have hearts and minds that are focused on love and friendship. Sure, we can have opposite ideas and views but at the end of the day we’ve got each other’s hearts in the palm of our hands – holding each other in love during good times and bad. So, my abnormal life has truly been shaped by my Sigma Phi Gamma Sisters across the United States and Canada – there are no boundaries to what SPG can do to make your life better.

International Conventions of the past – Deb Juracich, International President

International Conventions of the past
Deb Juracich
International convention is right around the corner. Not that anyone needs assistance getting excited for our trip to Portland, but let’s share our favorite moments from past International conventions. When I look back there are a few special moments that come to mind.
In South Bend and Grand Rapids, the membership was engaged with productive conversations about our organization and future. It was so exciting to see the passion of our Sisters from all over sharing ideas to help move SPG forward.
Hosting in Columbus has been one of my favorite International conventions. The collaboration of the members of Gamma Province was special. It was a bonding experience for the Sisters of the Province Planning Team, and working to provide a memorable and successful convention was amazing. The hotel staff was so impressed by our presence that they requested that we host every year at the Hyatt. Our members are always courtesy, kind, and generous. It was fun to share Ohio’s capitol city with our SPG Sisters.
The last memory is of the kindness of the SPG members. This was demonstrated in Nashville. We made convention that year a family affair – Kyle, our eight year old son at the time, got separated from us in the elevator, we got off and Kyle stayed on. He rode the elevator again to various floors, without either of us, and as parents we were panicked. A few minutes later, Kyle returned safe and sound with an elevator of SPG Sisters laughing with him and ensuring we were reunited.
Gives me goosebumps and puts a great smile on my face when I think of these and many more great memories of our time together at International convention.
What memories bring a smile to your face? Please share in the comments below!

Things We May Not Know When We Join Donna Collins, International Counselor

I recently read a few articles about the value of being in a sorority (most were about college sororities) hoping to be inspired and find some interesting content for my April BUDDIE Blog post. One of the articles stood out to me and was about the things a Sorority doesn’t tell a woman about being in a sorority. To follow is my translation of the big ideas in that article to Sigma Phi Gamma:

Being in sorority is a time commitment
You know there will be meetings and socials and service, but you also need time for reading the BUDDIE, BUDDIE Blog, and emails from the Chapter, Province, and International levels. There are the pop-up run outs for coffee, breakfast, pizza, or wine. Then, there are the extras: phone calls that require your undivided attention – supporting a Sister, sharing information, gossiping (which is not what we should be doing), requests for help, etc. All of this can add up to significant amounts of time in a week or month. The list of ‘extras’ here are mostly expectations – they are important to being a member and a supportive Sister.

The Chapter might have problems
Your Chapter isn’t perfect. It’s made up of women of all ages, backgrounds, professions, and interests. Every woman has ideas about how the organization operates, where you meet, when you meet, and the service work you do. We don’t have to like everything – just love the mission of why we became a member: Friendship, Service, and Community!

You won’t always be so involved
The Pledge period is the honeymoon. Everything is shiny and fun. Everyone is welcoming and very friendly. And, if done right you will make fast-friends with every member of the Chapter, but sometimes this isn’t possible due to personalities, age, work, and social interests. Over time you might find yourself drawn to specific Sisters. That’s okay if you remember other significant parts of why you became a member: service to the community and to people who need a hand-up; and participating in something bigger than yourself for the greater good of all the women in SPG across the world.

There are strict rules
We are governed by sets of rules: Chapter, Province, and International bylaws and standing rules that help us work well together. Not every rule sits-well with every member. There are membership dues and per capita; there are attendance expectations; there are rules of conduct; there are sometimes fines and penalties for not meeting obligations. As an organization with nearly 100 Chapters we need structure even when we think it’s silly or it doesn’t apply to us. I think of it as the ‘traffic light’ set of rules – we have green, yellow, and red lights to keep us safe and in our own lane.

You won’t be best friends with everyone in your chapter
When I look back at the founding on my Chapter I can say today that half of us were destined to be best friends and the others just friends, some falling away over time. I remember wanting to be like the ladies in Psi Chapter (our Big Sisters) who were very in-tune with one another and very social. This reflection remains the same today, although I now know there are small clusters of very close friends within the Chapter, and at the end of the day they remain true to one another regardless of the ‘depth’ of friendship from one woman to another. I would say, in a Chapter of 30 women, it’s likely you’ll be very close to eight to ten women. You don’t have to be best friends with every Sister, but you will want to respect, admire, and love them all.

Members come and go
Women join and drop out of sorority for all kinds of reasons: time, interest, money, job changes, or moving to a new town. A Chapter’s membership will ebb and flow overtime. It’s always a good idea to check-in with members from time-to-time when someone leaves the Chapter to make sure your operations and activities haven’t gone astray. Don’t let the amount of money women are expected to contribute (dues, per capita, charities, activities) is pushing women out or preventing women to join. Are you actually doing service work? Many women join to be ‘doers’ and that means doing more than having meetings. What is your Chapter doing to have active engagement in service?

An active member has a moral obligation to lead
We all have the ability to Chair a committee, run for office, hold an office, and serve as a leader. We all know there are women in our Chapters (some of them 25+ years) who have never served in an elected office. In the beginning there are reasons (new job, babies, caring of sick parents, etc.) but eventually you need to step-up. Yes, leadership takes a bit of time, thoughtfulness, and desire – and we each have a moral obligation to do our part. Letting, and depending on others, to lead and put in the extra effort while you sit on sidelines is not the SPG way. I promise leadership will not kill you!

And in the end…
You may not have truly understood about the obligation to volunteer, lead, participate, read those emails and newsletters, show up for an intervention to help a Sister, or even some of the secret aspects of sorority – with a definite guarantee I can say, it is all worth it. Sigma Phi Gamma and its members make a positive difference in our lives on the day we join, and overtime as we have life-moments (a wedding, a baby, a death, a new job, a dream and even a broken dream) that change us as women. Sigma Phi Gamma is a way of life for many of us and I know first-hand how much my Sisters love and support me, call me out when I’m wrong or misinformed, or show up for the coffee, wine, or just because.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone? Debbie Henize, International Historian

Get out of your comfort zone?
I have written more in the past few months than I have since college. I must say it is not my forte. For those of you who do not know, I am a certified public accountant. I work as a credit officer for a local bank. This means I read numbers for a living. Just because I read numbers doesn’t mean that I can’t write. However, it is not something I do frequently or enjoy.
I know about now, if you are reading this, you are probably saying so what. Well, here is the point. I have done so much in the past few months that is outside my comfort zone. Some things I am doing well others I am still struggling with. The reason I am doing all these things is because I love sorority. I enjoy the friendships and community service. I love meeting new people in a comfortable situation. Sorority has become part of me. I want this organization to continue for my daughter and others.
I am also not the one who usually recruits people. I need to get over that. We need members to continue this wonderful organization that was started so many years ago. Each and every member of Sigma Phi Gamma can help recruit new members. Find a way and like Nike. JUST DO IT!!
Please respond to this post with ideas of how we can grow. How can we continue to do great work for communities and support each other with love and friendship? The smallest idea could spur another sister’s idea which could lead to a new member or two or three. Let’s work together!! Don’t wait. We can do this together.
Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!

Debbie

BUDDIE Blogs Robin Pelton, International Vice President

As I read the BUDDIE Blog posts, I see that most seem to come from the current International Officers. I would really like to see some of you “regular people” on here. I get it. I don’t really blog either and I really can’t see anyone being interested in what is going on in my life or in what I have to say. I am just like you. I get up every weekday morning and go to work, come home and cook dinner and clean up. I spend my weekends cleaning the house, running errands, spending some time with my friends and family and watching too much tv.
But has it occurred to you that what is happening in your life might be just what someone needs to hear? Maybe what you have to say will strike a chord in one person’s heart and be just what they needed to hear at that moment.
I have an app on my tablet called “Daily Bread”. It is a quick devotional that I read in the mornings before work. Sometimes it is just something I read and then digest as I say a quick prayer. But some days what is written really hits home. Those are the ones that I appreciate. Someone took the time to share an “a-ha!” moment with me and the millions of others that read it. I am sure that some of these writers thought, “Why would anyone listen to what I have to say?” But when it is one of those that touch me in some way, I thank God that they DID write it.
So, my point is, take a risk! Share what you are thinking with others. Share your thoughts and feelings. Maybe someone else is thinking and feeling the same way and that one person won’t feel so alone. Maybe your chuckle can bring a smile to someone else’s face. Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this to scold anyone for NOT writing blogs, I just want to encourage that someone (or two) who need a little push. How about it? Give it a try!

I Gambled on SPG! Donna Collins, International Counselor

In my last BUDDIE Blog post (in March) I reflected on membership from the perspective of judges on the television show “The Voice.” Imagine every woman as a potential Sister regardless of her social status, ethnicity, profession, or cleanliness of her kitchen floor. Would you ‘turn your chair around’ for a potential new Sister?
Last week while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the start of March Madness there was lots of people watching on our part as we walked up and down the strip or watched the games and races in the hotel Sport Book locations. Every walk of life, young and not so young people, diversity of race and background was plentiful – just like the Vegas strip – there was something for everyone.
As I sat at the Sport Book watching my home team lose a game, I struck up a conversation with the only other woman in the 60 seat screen viewing area. She was funny and easy to talk with. Sylvia is her name and she’s from South Carolina where she is a third grade teacher, mother of one, divorced, and trying to remember what it’s like to have fun. We were in the right place!
When Sylvia asked me what I did for fun it was the perfect opening to talk about Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority! I shared our cornerstones: friendship, service, and community! I was able to talk about how fortunate I am to have Sisters across the US and Canada. It was fun to share some of the antics from our most recent Gamma Province meeting. And of course, talking about our international sponsorships to organizations like The Fisher House was meaningful too.
As our conversation came to a close I gave Sylvia my email address, the SPG website URL, and encouraged her think about what a sorority Chapter might look like in her hometown. So, I did it, I engaged a stranger about the organization I love and care deeply about. Sylvia listened, she asked questions, and she has a way to follow up (email and website). The lesson here is that: 1) I did it – and it was easy; 2) I did it – and maybe just maybe I’ll get to share more with Sylvia this spring and encourage her to join the Virtual Chapter or start a new Chapter; and 3) I did it – and it was like a blind audition on “The Voice” – only I wasn’t the judge – Sylvia was. I hope to hear from her and I’ll let you know the outcome. What is your potential to share SPG? I vote for you to ‘turn your chair around’ and take a chance on a new Sister!

SPG – Making Connections Deb Jurachich, International President

Dale Carnegie wrote in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” After reading this, you know me, I began to wonder, how do we connect with people? While researching, I found an article in Forbes Magazine titled, The Seven Pillars of Connecting with Absolutely Anyone. The seven pillars are:
1. Be genuine. Have genuine interest in a person to make a connection.
2. Provide massive help. How can I help?
3. Pay ridiculous attention. Learn what matters to a person.
4. Connect with people close to them. Network and connect with people you see regularly.
5. Persistence wins most battles. Try multiple times to connect with people.
6. Make real friends. This is the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
7. Remain unforgettable. Send cards, notes, emails, or go the extra mile to connect.
The bottom line is by helping others we are making connections. This is Sigma Phi Gamma! Our organization engages in all seven pillars, proudly. It is what makes this organization very special. So, let’s take this one step further . . . connect and share with other women the ideals of SPG. Let’s see where it will take us!
Share your story with us! Write a BUDDIE Blog post or comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

March 2018 – PHI PROVINCE CAN’T BE STOPPED BY THE WEATHER

Did you know that Sigma Phi’s can do anything they set their mind to? We are doing new things every day. Some of you may know that Sigma Phi Gamma had its first ever virtual VIO.
The east coast was having very strong storms. I had booked a 6:00 am flight from Cincinnati, Ohio to Providence RI. I was going to arrive at about 10:00 and do a little bit of sight seeing in the area before meeting counsel for dinner. Well, unfortunately my flight was cancelled and could not be rescheduled until a 10:00 pm arrival time. In the mean time I spoke with Liz Cochrane and Deb Juracich. Both suggested that I not try to go because the weather was not getting better anytime soon. Disappointed was just the start. I felt terrible that I was unable to join my sisters in Phi Province. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how I was going to get to Massachusetts. I just knew I could get there: Storm or not!!
Well, I don’t give up easily, but mother nature is a tough adversary. It was an opportunity to try something new. My wonderful sisters from Phi Province included me in their council meeting on Friday evening via Zoom. Zoom is a program that allowed me to join the counsel meeting via the computer. This is the same technology the International Council uses to have meetings throughout the year. Following the meeting we set plans to do the same for the Province meeting held on Saturday. It wasn’t the same as being able to give and receive hugs, but it was a good alternative, and nothing stops a Sigma Phi.

Nothing Stops a Sigma Phi.
Sigma Phi Wins!!
Debbie Henize, International Historian

Sister to Sister…..