I drove around Southeastern Louisiana University today – first day of classes! The excitement in the air was evident! New shoes, book bags, sorority letters, new friends, new places to live and the list goes on! It is one of my favorite times of the year! I also love that as I check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all the first day of school pictures remind me of what a special time this is in the lives of parents and students who send their children away from them whether for the semester or for a day! As we embark on this fall, let us remember to be kind to one another, to help in any way and to just make someone’s day better. It is almost like a new beginning with so many possibilities ahead! So study hard, make new friends, join a sports team, club or organization and have a great 2013-2014 school year! Who knows, maybe our paths will cross along the way!
Peace and Love,
Well, for some of us, especially in the Southeast and West Coast, the weather is beautiful! With beautiful weather comes day dreaming, spring break, picnics, runs along the river – you get the picture! Here is what I know – the world still wants us to be responsible, stay on task, and make things happen! My life has been crazy with some curves in the road, but I feel blessed to have great people to keep me focused and motivated! Here is to a productive and prosperous 2013!
Peace and Love,
Hello friends! I have wanted to post for some time but life kind of got very busy. This semester I have spoken on more than 20 campuses, have worked with more than 10 individual chapters of several organizations, have watched my family and friends celebrate life and struggle through some challenges, visited several countries, and seen beautiful parts of the United States. As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the future, I think of how I have been blessed. At the end of our lives, the most important part of what we were put on this earth for was to love and be loved. I know this is simple and not profound, but it is what I believe helps me do whatever it is I do. My wish for you this holiday season, is that you love and feel loved. It may be from someone special, a stranger, your pet(s) (certainly Brady and Buddy show me unconditional love each and everyday). No matter who the love is shared with, make it meaningful and make it count.
Happy Holidays and looking forward to the time when our paths cross on this journey we call LIFE!
Peace and Love,
Welcome Back! That seems to be the key sign on every campus I have visited so far this year. Students are coming to campus for the first time excited about what’s to come. Some will move on campus, others will join a student organization, and some will join fraternities and sororities. The fall is my favorite time on college campuses. As the summer comes to a close, the breeze begins to blow, and it feels like football season on many campuses. It is an exciting time for so many.
It is also a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. As we work with students whether as professionals, teachers, parents, staff, speakers, remember, they don’t have all the answers – they are not supposed to. Be patient with them, have conversations, ask them how they feel about something, and challenge them only if you are willing to support.
I hope I see you on the journey, and until then, have a great fall semester!
Peace and Love,
Happy Fest Y’all!
If you know anything about Louisiana, you might know that as soon as Mardi Gras is over, Festival Season begins. Every weekend you can find a plethora of Festivals to attend that center around themes such as strawberries, French Quarter, seafood, and whatever other theme comes along. It is what we call “culture or ritual.”
While walking around Jazz Fest, this sign was above the tent that housed the Mardi Gras Indians costume making, as well as Mardi Gras Dress makers, and Muse Parade shoes decorating. All of these are traditions in Louisiana.
Rituals come in many forms. No matter what the ritual or tradition might be, these acts continue to bind us to one another.
As we are ending the spring semester, there will be special ceremonies, rituals, happening in many of our institutions of learning. May the transitions from one phase to another happen wether it be initiations for fraternities and sororities, graduations, awards banquets, etc., may we celebrate the events that change our lives; may we thank the people who have helped to get us through these phases in our development, and may we all remember, that rituals do matter!
Do you ever think, what were they thinking? This is a question I often ask about our founders. Did they even have a clue as to what they were establishing for thousands of women who would follow after them? My logical answer is no way! They were courageous women who wanted a place to call home. Maybe they weren’t that different than the Theta Phi Alphas of today. Unlike us, they didn’t have certain rights and privileges. They could not vote in the Presidential Elections, they were not allowed to walk freely into U of M Student Union, and they certainly were not a part of the largest women’s organizations on campus. They were just women who were trying to get an education and find a group of women to support them.
As I drove onto the campus of the University of Michigan, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Although I had been to the campus previously, the sight of the blue flag with the yellow M still makes my heart race just a bit.
I am a professional campus speaker; I have spoken on more than 500 campuses. As much as these experiences have been amazing, speaking at the birthplace of Theta Phi Alpha made me quite nostalgic. As I stood on the stage in the Historic Rackham Auditorium, I looked out at approximately 1,100 sorority women. Sitting in the front row were four Theta Phi Alpha alumnae cheering me on – a true example of sisterhood. It was a moment I will not soon forget. I shared with the undergraduate women of the sororities at Michigan that Theta Phi Alpha and ultimately, my journey began at the University of Michigan and what an important part their campus has in our Fraternity’s history.
The night was one of laughter, tears, thoughtfulness, and yes, a little singing! Thank you to the Theta Phi Alpha Foundation and Theta Phi Alpha Fraternity for trusting me with delivering our gift to the Panhellenic at the University of Michigan.
At the end of the program, Mary Beth Seller, Director of Greek Life, presented me with a bag of gifts – a recruitment bag, a Michigan blanket, and a Stole of Gratitude. It was quite a special moment and I appreciated accepting the Stole of Gratitude on behalf of The Fraternity.
As I looked out at those women, I thought about the day that our Alpha Chapter could be back at the home of our founding. One day, but for now, one Theta Phi Alpha had a memorable experience at the place that we call Home!
Make A Promise to Live Your Rituals Everyday
The current world of fraternity and sorority life is seeking many of the same answers those of us were seeking twenty plus years ago. We continue to search for “the answers” when it comes to our members really “getting it”. As I have traveled the country speaking on college campuses, I have given away stickers to help participants remember my message or possibly contact me at a later date. The stickers have said “Ritual…. Just Live It”, “What Would Our Founders Think of Us Today?”, and most recently “Ritual=Values=You”. Each one of these messages are intended to challenge all of us to remember why we are members of fraternities and sororities to begin with—to become the best people we can with the support of people we call our brothers and sisters.
As advisors, leaders, and friends, it is our responsibility to get our members past the performance of the ritual ceremony, although that is important, to the action part of our rituals. What do I mean? Our ceremonies are just that unless we move those words and symbols and have them become action-oriented aspects of our members’ lives. Our members are NOT getting it for the most part. They do not make a connection between the values and promises in those ceremonies to their everyday behavior. For example: “Today, I think I will just put whatever comes to mind on my Facebook, Twitter, etc. and I don’t really care what anyone thinks about it. I am going to use inappropriate language, I am going to attach a picture of myself or others” doing something offensive just because it is funny, and I am going to ‘Tweet’ about it too.” Instead of saying to oneself, how will this represent me, my organization, my family, this person strictly ignores any consequences because they feel it is okay. Another example is that I am going to ignore hazing is happening in my chapter and as long I am not present when it happens, I am not responsible. Our rituals give us a road map as to how to be the best people we can be. They say in words how we should respect others and ourselves, they say how we should hold one another accountable, and how we should stand up for what is right.
When discussing values, I am intrigued by the various definitions and explanations that emerge. In my opinion, values are a comprehensive set of behaviors that guide how we live our lives. In fraternity and sorority life, values are what we describe as brotherhood and sisterhood—they are the way we love one another, hold one another accountable, and support one another to be the best people we can be. Our values as organizations lived out by our members really do matter. Today we are being judged by how we walk the talk of what we say we are about. People join fraternities and sororities for so many reasons. What it comes down to is that we join hopefully, to share our college and beyond experiences with people who share common values. We search for people who have similar beliefs as we do and live those beliefs through our actions whether it be working on community service projects, striving to do well academically, working for a common good, taking care of one another, making a difference, standing up for what you believe in, whatever the case may be.
Each one of us makes a promise to live the best life we can and to be the best members of our organization that we can be. Our fraternity and sorority experience has the ability to change our lives. As someone who has been initiated for almost 25 years, I know that joining a sorority was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My professional and personal journey has been enhanced because of all of the amazing experiences and people I have encounter along the way. It is each one of our responsibilities to step up and say, am I doing what I said I would do? Am I challenging myself and those around me to be the best people we can be? Am I passionate about the experiences and opportunities I have through my fraternity and sorority experiences? Do I try my best to live the values expressed through my ritual, creeds, mottos, and symbols to the best of my ability? These are questions I am faced with on a daily basis and I challenge each one of us to examine our fraternal experiences and to be our best!
As a professional speaker with CAMPUSPEAK, Mari Ann has several outstanding keynotes for fraternity and sorority life, and the college experience. To find about more about Mari Ann and her keynotes for college students, visit campuspeak.com/callais.
It has been a while since I have blogged. I wish that life did not just take off sometimes and that I had the time to write, think, share, learn, explore…
As I work with various constituents in all of my experiences, I continue to be amazed at the vast amount of passion and determination that so many have for what they do. Each and every day I appreciate more and more that God has truly blessed my life with great people and so many great encounters.
Remember, be intentional about all you do and put positive energy out into the world. I promise you, it will come back to you!
Happy Spring! Stop and Smell the flowers and enjoy some much needed Sunshine!
Love and Peace,