All posts by International Editor

Feeling Stressed and Uncreative? by Sandy Morris, International Vice President

I must confess, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and burned out the last couple of months and I find it makes it very difficult to be creative.  It is just life, as it happens, sometimes for all of us.  It has nothing to do with Sorority or my duties as your Vice President, but sadly, that part of my life is affected as a result.  It is a debilitating issue that just causes me to become stagnant.  I was trying and trying to come up with something to share on the Blog that might be inspiring or helpful in some way and I ran across this article about how stress affects your ability to be creative.  I thought, absolutely!  I have fought that all my life.  So, I am sharing this with all of you and hopefully it will give you a boost too!
From the Harvard Business Review by Elizabeth Grace Saunders
You’re burned out, and the cumulative stress makes it hard to decide what to eat for dinner, let alone come up with innovative ideas.  But people are still expecting you to produce creative solutions despite your current mental state.  What do you do?
If you find yourself in this situation, I can’t offer any guarantees that epiphanies will come to you.  But I can offer ideas based on my experience as a time management coach and on the science of how our brains work that can give you the best possible odds of coming up with some decent new thoughts.
To start, you need to let go of trying to “make yourself” come up with something creative.  If you’re already struggling with stress, threatening yourself can further trigger the fight-or-flight mode.  This causes you to operate out of the primal, least creative part of your brain. So instead of saying to yourself, “I must be creative,” or “This has to happen now,” it’s better to tell yourself something like, “I’m going to see what happens,” “I’m going to explore this possibility,” or “I’m going to play around with some ideas.”
You want to create a sense of psychological safety, so you don’t experience debilitating performance pressure.
Once you’ve created psychological safety, then experiment with activities that can trigger the “diffuse-thinking” state.  This type of thinking is one in which your brain operates in a looser manner, searching to make connections between different parts of your brain versus operating in the established neuropaths followed in the “focused-thinking” state.  Activities like walking, napping, eating, or taking other sorts of breaks naturally put you into the diffuse state and open your mind up to new possibilities.
To maximize the benefits of these in-between times, avoid multi-tasking and let your mind explore a particular idea.  For example, you could feed your brain these kinds of prompts: What might be involved in making this promotion a success?  Or what might happen if we approached our customers in a different way?  An openness of mind and non-judgment toward the quality or quantity of your thoughts gives space for creativity to come forth.
In particular, I find that I am most creative when I not only am giving myself space from my computer but also positioning myself in a “happy place.”  In the warmer months, that’s somewhere outside preferably along a lake. In the cooler months, it’s likely a coffee shop with a fireplace.  Beautiful, peaceful surroundings lift my spirits and creative mental capacity.  Some of my coaching clients have found their happy, creative spaces in historic libraries, art museums, or even browsing through boutique shops.  Know which environments naturally give you pleasure and immerse yourself in them to allow positive thoughts to arise. 
If you still feel stuck and just can’t come up with something new, then you may want to give your brain more material to work with.  This could look like reading on the topic, taking a field trip to a place where you can see other people’s creative solutions to a similar problem, or talking to experts.  Sometimes by seeing what other people have done, you can come up with new ways to approach your own situation.
And then to even further increase your opportunity for breakthrough moments, collaborate with others.  Alternating between solo thinking and time in groups proves the most effective way to develop the most creative thoughts.  Have a brainstorming meeting with colleagues, get together for coffee with a friend, or do problem-solving with a consultant.  Two or more brains can work better than one.  The process of talking through ideas can stimulate new thoughts and challenge your thinking.
Finally, give yourself time.  When your brain operates at full capacity, you may have the ability to come up with creative thoughts on the fly.  But when you’re less than 100%, you’ll have a much better chance of success by giving your brain time to percolate on ideas for a few days.
When you’re mind feels blank and all you want to do is zone out, it’s more difficult but not impossible to experience your breakthrough.  By putting yourself in the right mental state and environments, you can find your creativity.
This may work!  Just by reading this article it inspired me to do this Blog and so I hope this helps some of you during the busy holiday season!
I wish all of you a wonderful Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with many blessings and good health.

Blessings by Debbie Henize, International Historian

This is the time of the year that many people think about blessings and blessing others.  I recently attended a Christmas dinner with my husband to the local fire department.  For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a twenty-year veteran of a local volunteer fire station where he is now an honorary member.  We listened to awards given to volunteers who gave countless hours to their community.  They said thank you to local heroes.

Sigma Phi’s do this too!  We may not be saving people from car wrecks or burning buildings, but we are providing meals, clothes, and hope in many ways to the communities in which we live.  I want to say thank you on behalf of everyone you serve.  You are a hero to the child who now has a coat.  You are a hero to the family who had a warm meal because you care.  You are a hero to cancer patients who were given wigs or hats because you care.  You are a hero because you supported senior citizens in your community.  You are a hero because you helped a veteran’s organization support those who served us.  You are a hero because you see the need in your community and met it.

May God bless you in everything you do.
Merry Christmas!

Just What is a 501(c)(7)? By Mary Ann Tuer, International Secretary/Treasurer

Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, Inc. is considered a “social/friendship club” and was organized for pleasure, recreation and other non-profitable purposes by our Founders in 1920.  Generally, social clubs are membership organizations primarily supported by dues, fees, charges or other funds paid by their members.
The main difference between a 501(c)(7) and 501 (c)(3) is that any money or goods received from our members or outside sources are NOT tax deductible.  When looking for donations from businesses or other sources, make sure you tell them that we are a (c)7 and NOT a (c)3.
Also, I believe there is a misconception about being “exempt”. “Exempt” does not mean that a Chapter or Province does not pay sales taxes.  Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, Inc. as a whole is exempt from paying taxes (Federal), but even I pay taxes for everything purchased for the business office.
Did you know that our Bylaws (governing instrument) may not contain a provision that provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color or religion?  I was not aware of this – but fortunately, this is not something Sigma Phi Gamma has to worry about since we do not have any of these provisions and we are a “friendship” organization that welcomes those who want to join.
Lastly, any net earnings of this organization may not inure to the benefit of any person (member or their family members) having a personal or private interest in its activities.  This is why none of the monies earned can go directly to a sister in need.
Remember, before you commit to a function or a meeting place where they are requesting your non-profit status, make sure you tell them we are a 501(c)(7) so there is no confusion at the end of the day.  I have a copy of the IRS letter stating our exempt status in the business office if you ever have to produce it.
Just know I am a phone call away if you ever have any questions. Mary Ann

As I volunteer, I reflect on our Mission and Vision Statements by Robin Pelton, International President

Many of you know about the tragedy that has been on-going in my community since December 8, 2018.  The Camp Fire affected many small towns in Northern California and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in the town of Paradise, just 15 miles away from Chico.  As I write this, the death toll is up to 79 and there are still hundreds missing.  My daughter and son-in-law lost their home and everything in it, but are alive and well, and were able to save their beloved cat, Gemma.

I have been lucky enough to personally see a huge outpouring of kindness and humanity during this tragic time.  My daughter has been blessed by friends and family sending gift cards, items, cash, cards, emails, texts, hugs and prayers.  The amount of support has been overwhelming.  I have been doing what I can to help, donating items, sorting and hanging clothes for a pop-up “free” clothing store at a local church, delivering items to evacuation centers, etc.  Most people are doing this.

Stories abound on Facebook about strangers showing compassion and kindness to strangers.  Other stories are about the personal experiences of escaping this extremely fast-moving disaster.  There was no warning and many were fortunate to escape with their lives. Many had to run and leave cars behind.  Some were not so lucky.

As I volunteer at this time, I can’t help but reflect on our Mission and Vision Statements:

MISSION: Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority – together we are one in friendship, service, and community.

VISION: Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority brings women together to inspire one another through friendship and service today, tomorrow, and forever.

This monumentally tragic event will not be over quickly. It will be months, perhaps years, before lives will be back to normal.  My Chapter, Delta Nu, will do what we can to help.  Helping others, helping our community, and reaching out to those unfortunate enough to need this help, that is what Sigma Phi Gamma is all about.  Thank God for our Sorority—today, tomorrow, and forever.

Fall brings many changes – by Linda Bullington, International Organizer

Once you’ve mowed the lawn for the last time, raked all the leaves, packed away the lawn furniture and any other yard related chores you do at the end of the season, it frees up a lot of your time.  As the weather becomes colder, wetter, snowy or gloomy, we tend to stay indoors more.  This is the perfect time to ramp up your efforts to recruit new members for SPG!  Invite your non-sorority friends to do something together, something you know they enjoy.  While you are together, share the joy of recent sorority events you’ve been involved with.  Make it apparent how much joy and fulfillment you receive from participating in SPG events.  Make them wish they could share in the events too!  (because they can… if you invite them…)  Take it as slow as they need to go, so you don’t scare them away.  Or if they are all about speed, rush them right on in!  Be the best representation of SPG you can be when you are around non-SPG friends or relatives.  Smiling, happy and helpful are examples of what you should share.  Your Chapter Organizer, Province Organizer, AEX team and International Organizer look to you for leads on potential ladies to welcome into SPG.  We need your help in locating prospective members to cultivate into actual SPG members. The success of SPG begins with you!  Our sorority survival depends on you helping bring new members in!  You can help keep SPG viable for years to come!

Hello everyone – By Debbie Henize, International Historian

I woke up early on my last day of a long weekend in Gatlinburg.  I woke early just because it is my habit.  I love the quite time before anyone gets up.  As I read a blog post from Donna Collins, it reminded me to post as well.
I was just thinking of how blessed I am.  I am in one of my favorite places with my favorite people, my mom Darlene Partin, Stephanie Branch and my daughter Makayla Henize.  Just spending time with them is a huge blessing but we get to come to this beautiful part of the country every year and see God’s wonderful miracles of nature.
With the serious fires going on in California right now and the fires that left 14 dead and many without homes here in Gatlinburg a year ago, I am again reminded of how precious we are to one another.  Sorority is a very special place where we build life long friendships through helping others.  It feels good to know that we are able to make a difference in the communities we serve.  We are able to help others by helping ourselves.  What I mean by this is that the friendships that we are building are essential in our lives.  They give us purpose and help us through hard times.  It is these friendships that allow us the ability to go out and help someone else.  This is a treasured miracle.
Share this miracle with someone else.  What a wonderful blessing you can be to someone else

Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste – Donna Collins, Past International President

I’m writing today as I watch the national news to keep an eye on our Sisters in California who are literally being burned out of their homes.  As I pray, wring my hands, send messages, scan Facebook, and try to figure out how to help I kept thinking about the phrase made famous by Churchill or some other person I can’t remember at the moment – Never let a crisis go to waste.
We have an opportunity to do more than pray!  While we sit comfortably in our living rooms let’s make a pact right now – really, right now:
I will make a donation to disaster relief in California that is meaningful.
I will talk to my Sisters at our next Chapter meeting and we will take action to do something that will assist the tens of thousands of people who no longer have homes, personal belongings, clothes, books, or treasures.
I will call a Sister in my Chapter who hasn’t been active of late and ask for her help too – maybe by starting a collection site for gift cards and money that can go to those in need.
And, I’ll even make this an opportunity to let women I know who are not members – know that we are looking out for our Sisters in California and invite them to participate. What better way to demonstrate the power of our motto: Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!
I’m sure you have lots of ideas on how to help.  Share those with us so that we can support the work you want to do on behalf of the latest crisis in California.  We’re Sigma Phi Gamma Sisters and we are always looking for opportunities to help – let’s not let this crisis go untouched by Sigma Phi Gamma members.

Thankful November by Deb Juracich, International Counselor

November is the month that we tend to focus on gratitude and thankfulness. This is an appropriate time to to share my thankful for Sigma Phi Gamma list with all of my Sisters.
What are you thankful for?

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

I love that quote by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer.  I try my best to live by that philosophy .  For a stubborn person like me, sometimes that is hard. But along my life’s journey, I have found that even when I KNOW I am right, arguing about it is never the best thing.  I have learned that backing down and letting the other person “win”, not only results in peace and goodwill, but in time, the other person usually finds out that they were wrong.  I also find that agreeing to disagree with respect and love promotes more respect and love.
The next time that you KNOW you are right about something and another disagrees with you, take a moment to pause and reflect.  Is it really that important to be right?  I choose kind.
Robin Pelton
International President

Hosting International Convention 2022 by Robin Pelton, International President

Hear ye, hear ye!
Be it understood that we are still looking for bids for the
2022 International Convention!
Several Provinces expressed interest in hosting, and the deadline of September 30 is fast approaching.
Any Province that would like to take on the pleasure of hosting your Sisters for the 2022 International Convention, please email or mail me your information.
Province name
Proposed chair(s)
Proposed place
Proposed theme
Proposed dates
Nothing has to be “set in stone” at this time. I hope to hear from you soon!!