It’s not you, it’s me.

Cora Johnson - Kappa Phi Chapter, Florida Atlantic University
Cora Johnson – Kappa Phi Chapter, Florida Atlantic University

Thanks to my roomie who saves me from all things technical, I have the new Google Chrome web browser (I think that’s what the computer geniuses call that page), and a different quote appears every day. Today’s quote was by Carlos Castaneda, “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The effort is the same.” This quote caught my eye and got my mind thinking about a potential blog, the importance of loving yourself.

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Young women are put to the ultimate test of strength through society’s ideals and beliefs of what the ‘perfect’ woman should look and act like. The word ‘perfect’ is far from my vocabulary…unless we are discussing my cats…but I have been failing this test for many years in my eyes. It wasn’t until the past few months and maybe year that I fully realized that the word perfect isn’t realistic but the word beautiful is.

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Working with collegiate women on a daily basis I’ve witnessed the pressure to uphold the unrealistic standards set by society throughout their daily activities. I’ve also witnessed the beauty within each individual woman that sometimes goes unnoticed even to themselves.

[Beauty: the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind]

So often, we (all women and men) put so much pressure on physical appearance and hide or desensitize the importance of our qualities as individuals that set us apart and make us who we are. All women deserve to understand that they are unique and different and that is what makes them beautiful. So many times we (I’m included) beat ourselves up because our hair isn’t perfectly curled, our bone structure is too noticeable, our thighs are too wide, or the most common “why can’t I look like her.” While these same exact women are saving lives as nurses, being incredible teachers and role models for children, changing the business stigma, raising millions of dollars; essentially changing the world.

Fact: We are all different and probably all a little weird.

Fact: We are all beautiful because of that.

If I have learned anything this past year it is that you need to love yourself before you can love anybody else, or anything else for that matter. It’s not what you look like or what you could look like, it’s what you are doing and the lives you are impacting.

It’s time for all women to commit to loving themselves and their inner beauty, and to say, “sorry society, it’s not me, it’s you.” We are all beautiful and the world deserves to see your sparkle.

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xoxo,

CJ

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How to Finish Strong

Nicole Curtis - Theta Pi Chapter, SUNY-Geneseo
Nicole Curtis – Theta Pi Chapter, SUNY-Geneseo

The end of the semester is in sight; you’re almost finished working on a huge project; you’re stuck in vacation mode from spring break. Whatever the reason, if you can relate to any of these situations you are probably struggling with the motivation you need to finish strong.

I have been there before, and I am certainly not immune to it now after college. It’s so tempting to blow off work or wait until the last minute because you want to hang out with friends. If you’re a senior, the temptation is especially strong because you don’t know when you’ll see your college friends again, and let’s face it, the real world will not give you the freedom to stay up late or sleep in during the week so you have to take advantage of it now.

But it’s best to have a healthy balance of working hard and having fun even when the end is in sight. To do this will require a bit of work on your part; organization and planning will be your best friends. There are 24 hours in a day. You can do SO MUCH in 24 hours! But if you don’t have a plan and stay organized, you will waste precious time. So, let’s tackle this together: take a seat, find a pen and grab your planner (I love my Erin Condren– it’s so colorful and fun it makes me actually want to write out everything I do).

When I sit down to get organized I like to start with any due dates of projects, reports, tests, etc. I mark them in my planner in a different color so they stand out and I set reminders throughout the weeks leading up; that way I don’t turn the page one week and suddenly realize I have something due in a few days. If you have a big project to complete before the end of the semester, or an intense final to study for, you can break it down into more manageable chunks and work or study a little bit each week.

Next, I fill in any events, meetings or appointments. For example if I know I am going to dinner with friends I will write it in my planner to make sure it does not overlap with any other meetings and to make sure I schedule my work around dinner. In college, I would pull up the Sigma Kappa semester calendar and schedule everything in one sitting and it was especially helpful to mark those events or meetings in the same color.

When you are able to schedule both work and social life in you planner, it becomes much easier to see where everything falls. If you notice one week has a lot of work, save more fun activities for the weekend or following week. Conversely, if you have a lot on your social calendar, try to schedule times to go to a coffee shop and get work done.

With a little bit of proactive thinking, you can have an amazing end of the semester and finish strong!

A Letter to my Biological Sister who is now my Sorority Sister

Britney Smith - Kappa Mu Chapter, Duquesne University
Britney Smith – Kappa Mu Chapter, Duquesne University

Dear Sis,

Being an older sister was my first job & probably will always be my favorite one. To think, I have been there through all of your life, all your struggles & all those triumphs is crazy cool for me. Trips to Idlewild, too many dance recitals to count, doctor appointments, time out, playgrounds & beaches; we have shared so much together. You’re the person that I have spent the most time with, the person who was always around to annoy me, play with me, help me & talk to me. It’s been a fun 19 years with you.

Now we’ve added one more thing to our list of joint adventures. HELLO SIGMA KAPPA & all of the things that come along with being in the same sorority at the same university. Shared Ritual, shared friends and the same floor in a Duquesne residence hall.

But Ky, as much as I wanted you to join the sisterhood that I call home, by no means do I want you to have the same journey as me. Your experiences are yours, just as mine are mine. Sigma Kappa may mean something to you that’s very different from what it means to me & that is okay. It’s normal to walk through Sigma Kappa with different perspectives & feelings towards it. All I ask is that you take from Sigma Kappa all that you can & all that you need. Use it to shape who you’ll become.

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Kyleigh and I after Kappa Mu’s Spring 2016 initiation

Nothing has been so special as surprising you during your Initiation & being able to pin you with the badge that has come to mean so much to me. Quite the good surprise, don’t ya think? Still thankful for minimal travel delays that day.

Now, I think I have the two best jobs in the world, being an older sister & being a leadership consultant. My worlds are colliding. Sigma Kappa was my college family. It’s currently my work family. Now Sigma Kappa enters my immediate family.

It’s amazing to me that we now get to share Sigma Kappa. Welcome to the love Kyleigh!

Xo,

Brit

Film Photography: The Lost Art

Alyssa Ramsey - Delta Chi Chapter, University of Central Oklahoma
Alyssa Ramsey – Delta Chi Chapter, University of Central Oklahoma

As a photographer I have an appreciation for all types of photography, but my favorite has to be film photography. When I was in college I took a few classes where I got to work hands on with my film and develop and print my own pictures in the darkroom. I never really appreciated the availability of the darkroom and all the supplies I got to use on campus until after I graduated. There is just something about getting to be hands on with my photos that just makes me love them that much more.

Living in Charleston, SC I constantly walk around town and wondered what kinds of pictures I could take with my film camera. Charleston is such an old city and film really captures that. When I took a trip back to Oklahoma I decided that I should take the initiative and try it out. Now obviously I don’t have my own darkroom in Charleston, so I have to take them to be processed (which isn’t as fun). But I have some of the results to show you!

People ask, “why film?” “What is so special about it when digital is so much quicker and higher quality?” Well I love the rawness of film photography. There is something about the grain and color that I just love. It makes me feel like I am taking a glimpse into the past, and going out shooting film is such a relaxing experience to me. Here are some of the pictures I have taken so far. All of these are unedited and straight off the roll. I hope you all enjoy!

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

-XOXO- Alyssa

 

 

A Letter to Myself as a New Member

Bid day

Bianca Pino - Kappa Omicron Chapter, Florida International University
Bianca Pino – Kappa Omicron Chapter, Florida International University

Dear Bianca as a new member,

It’s you, six years from your bid day, here to tell you the journey you’re about to embark on is one of excitement, challenges, personal growth, and is once in a lifetime. You joined Sigma Kappa because for once in your life there were a group of people that saw you for who you were and accepted it. Years of being in the shadows of your friends throughout middle and high school are finally over, and now you’re wanted and loved.

It’s weird, right? I promise that every time you doubt whether you belong, I want you to realize that you do! Sigma Kappa is going to push you to be that woman you’ve dreamt of being – one that made a difference, that people looked up to, that was remembered. You are going to have six little sisters that all hold a piece of your heart and make you want to be a better person every single day. These Sigma Kappa sisters will become family – an actual family that doesn’t just stop talking to you out of nowhere or comes to you just when they need something. I know, that’s hard to believe because that’s all you’ve ever known family to be, but trust me, it’s real.

You’re going to be approached to be Webmaster as a new initiate, and you’ll probably think, “What?! Yeah right, I could never be a leader in college. I’m not good enough.” Bianca, trust me that this position is the start of your journey to self-confidence and happiness. You’ll be Panhellenic Delegate and Vice President of New Member Education soon after, already joining executive council and making an impact. Then you’ll be chapter president – yup, you will lead a chapter of close to 200 women for an entire year and even win awards like FIU Sorority Woman of the Year! You don’t believe me, huh? Well it gets better…you’ll become a Sigma Kappa Leadership Consultant. Not just for one year, but for two! Yes, all of this becomes a reality for you starting where you’re at right now.

You will go from a place of uncertainty and doubt, to self-confidence and leadership. I want you to know that although you don’t see your own potential in this moment, Sigma Kappa sees it for you and will get you to believe it for yourself. You’re going to go through so many things as you go on this journey: problems at home, loss of friends and family, moments of wanting to quit and retreat back to that dark place of self-doubt…but I want you to know you will overcome each moment of adversity. Each moment truly does contribute to all the successes I mentioned before; it leads you to be who I am just six years later. So enjoy your time as a new member and get ready for the next few years, because this journey as a Sigma Kappa is about to change who you are to the core.

Your dreams will finally come true.

Adios,

Bianca as a Leadership Consultant

Ten Little Ways to Spring Clean Your Spaces

Dana Finley - Delta Chapter, Boston University
Dana Finley – Delta Chapter, Boston University

I am a firm believer that I am more productive when my work spaces are clean, streamlined and clutter-free. With spring upon us, I’m more inspired than ever to spruce up my spaces. While I recently did a deep cleaning of my apartment, I also find it satisfying to do a few little things each day to maintain a sense of calm and balance around me. Here are 10 little tasks you can do to make a big difference around your home, your work space, and even your inbox!

  1. Wipe down your window blinds: Real talk: a whole lot of dust accumulates very quickly on window blinds. It might take a little more time to go over every last blind, but give them a good wipe down with a microfiber cloth or a Swiffer duster.
  2. Vacuum your car floor mats: If you’re not hitting up a car wash anytime soon, graba-place-for-everything-in-its-place-organization-quote1 the floor mats of your car. It’s pretty gross how crumbs, loose change, and other fun surprises can pile up fast! I use this vacuum and it’s easy to stash in my car between cleanings.
  3. Create a master file box: I am pretty guilty of putting random letters, papers, and receipts aside because I know I need to keep them, but until recently I did not have a system for organizing them. I recently bought a plastic file box to organize all my important documents so I no longer have random little piles of papers around my apartment.
  4. Unsubscribe from pesky newsletters and retail emails: My biggest pet peeve is an inbox full of promotional emails. I’ve used an online tool called Unroll.Me for a few years that “rolls up” all my subscription emails each day to one master email. Now when I login to my personal email each morning, I have less than 10 emails waiting for me. If there are stray promotional emails sitting in my inbox, I will either go ahead and unsubscribe from them immediately or add them to my “roll up.”
  5. Clean your makeup brushes: Makeup brushes get dirty really quickly and it’s super unsafe to use tools on your face with tons of bacteria on them. Make a habit of cleaning your makeup brushes with baby shampoo or another mild soap regularly.
  6. Change your air filter: This is something I didn’t know was a thing until I lived in an apartment by myself. Make sure you know what size air filter you need for your HVAC system and check out this tutorial that can probably explain the process better than I can.
  7. Wipe down the inside of your fridge and ice box: Use a non-toxic disinfectant (I like a combo of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle) to get rid of food remnants on the surfaces inside your fridge and to clean out any unwanted crud inside your ice box.
  8. Freshen up your garbage disposal: Over time your garbage disposal can start to smell funky. Every few months, make sure to give it a refresh by pouring some baking soda down the disposal and rinsing with cold water while the disposal is on. I usually throw some lemon rinds too for a pleasant citrusy smell. (PS – did you know you should only use cold water when running your garbage disposal? I learned this recently!)
  9. Dust your ceiling fan blades: You guys, don’t look at the top and edges of your ceiling fan blades up close. Just trust me. It’s pretty gross. Gotta dust those things regularly–think about all that gross stuff those blades circulate through the air.
  10. Sort through your closet: When I was in college, I would always do a big closet clean-out at the end of each school year. My rule of thumb is anything I haven’t worn in the last six months has got to go. I like to try to sell my clothes and accessories to secondhand stores for a little extra cash, but if I don’t have luck there, I always donate to Goodwill . Don’t forget to get a receipt of your donation so you can get a tax write-off!

Happy spring cleaning!

Social Media Cleanse

Annie Forrest, Theta Zeta, University of Virginia
Annie Forrest, Theta Zeta, University of Virginia

Mardi Gras is the best season of the year in my opinion. It’s a time when life is celebrated to its fullest with parades, free things upon free things, and truth behind the words “laissez les bon temps rouler” (or “let the good times roll”). After Mardi Gras ends and the last king cake is eaten on Fat Tuesday, the season of Lent begins. Regardless of your religious convictions, it can be good to either add something positive to your daily routine or take something away that’s causing a distraction. Reflecting on where you spend your time can be beneficial whether it’s during the time of Lent or any other time of the year.

Here are my personal reflections from giving up social media (in almost all forms) for the past 40+ days:

If you know me, then you know I love posting pictures and sending shout-outs to my friends on the ‘gram, the ‘book and all the rest. It was a spur of the moment decision to delete all the apps from my phone and ex out of all the tabs online (sans Snapchat and Tumblr), basically going cold turkey on one of my favorite things to do. I chose to keep Snapchat because it wasn’t an outlet that typically distracted me (plus, I love collecting geofilters on my journeys) and Tumblr because I use it as a source of news.

The first few days were weird. Waiting for people at my daily meetings, sitting on my couch at the end of the day, and waking up in the morning without automatically grabbing my phone was odd. It felt like an automatic reflex that I was fighting to stop, like my muscle memory could pick up my phone and open Instagram on autopilot.

I resisted, though, and it became easier. Each day I felt the urge to immediately check my phone in my moments of free time less and less. By now, I don’t think about opening the apps almost at all.

That’s only half of what happened to me after giving up social media, though. The other half revolves around the way I communicate with people — both virtually and in person.

Virtually:

  • I miss people. I miss seeing what they’re doing and them seeing what I’m doing in return. Social media is a community of people at its most basic state, and as someone with strong extroverted characteristics, I miss that community.
  • Despite studies that say it’s easier to fall asleep without your phone as a distraction and without all the light that a screen emits, I found the opposite to be true for myself. I actually have a harder time falling asleep now for whatever reason.
  • Because this job as a leadership consultant dictates so much time by myself all over the country, I feel less connected than I would like. I can still text and call people, but the times when I am by myself in my apartment or traveling to and from another chapter are lonelier than they were before.

In person:

  • I almost never get my phone out when I’m around other people. Whether it’s at a meal, riding in the car with someone, or hanging out wherever I may be, I keep my phone tucked away. This allows me to focus on the people I’m surrounded by in the present.
  • I became much more efficient in work-related matters. Writing emails, reports and job applications became much less time-consuming because I didn’t take breaks every so often to check social media. Once I sat down to do a task, I not only finished it in one sitting, but also in much less time than normal.
  • I noticed how much everyone else around me uses their phones much, much more than I did before. I wind up wishing they would put their phone down and focus on the experience and situation at hand. I also wish I had done the same for years before now.

Overall, I’m happy with my experience, but I don’t think social media is something I want to give up again. I became much more efficient and lived more in the moment, but I also missed people a lot more in the end. I think I can keep the lessons I’ve learned going forward about in person interactions and still browse through social media apps when I’m by myself.

After all, I have the coolest job ever and people deserve to see how great it is online!