Friday, January 27, 2012

Invited to the Junket

Greg & I have had our invitations designed & ready to print for what seems like FOREVER. We got a great recommendation from a friend of ours to try a printer she'd used before here in Chicago so we set up an appointment & had it all figured out. Then my Mom had the idea of checking with a family printer in St. Pete. Of course I was originally peeved because this would "slow us down", but I have to give credit to Mom...she got a pretty brilliant deal back home & I was happy to shop "local".

When I was home for my bachelorette party & shower we picked up the invitations & they are exactly what I wanted. I flew them all the way back to Chicago so that Greg & I could address them & get them on their way. FIRST I had to figure out how to get them addressed without either hiring a full time calligrapher or paying a printer a big fee to print them for us. SO I decided to do it myself. Shocker right? Fellow savvy attention. Everybody else, stop reading.

It's a 2 parter: FIRST I found this tutorial on how to print on this little baby RSVP envelopes. That was a relief because I had already been having a hard time with the big envelopes so I was afraid of how difficult the little ones would be. They turned out to be easier than the big ones. SECOND I did myself a favor & created a spreadsheet of our guests & their addresses. I am already excited for how this is going to streamline the holiday card process. Once I made my "mail merge" (I know...nerd) I was home free. ALSO I happened across a beautiful script that I think is polished without being fussy & that's what I used for the whole project. I found it on one of my favorite blogs, How About Orange.

all of the necessary components
So, once all of the addressing was completed I started the hunt for postage. I might lean a little on the overly practical side of things, so I had an embarrassingly practical plan to begin with which I won't even share. THEN I started looking on Zazzle for postage because that's where we got our stamps for the Save the Dates & I loved them. Their products are super cute but a little pricey for me at this stage of the game. Enter the old trusty United States Postal Service...Making bridal postage dreams come true since 1775. There were 3 "wedding stamps" available but of course you know I can't let my creative side go down without a fight...and then I found THEEEESE. Garden of Love? We're getting married in a Garden. We're in love. PERFECT! So we order 1.5 MILLION sheets of these (ok not that much but close) & they finally arrived YESTERDAY!

If I haven't already said enough how much we love & adore our neighbors Rich & Charlene I need to say it again. They have changed our Chicago living lives since we met this Fall. They have been supportive, kind & helpful in every possible way & they're really more like family than neighbors. It's almost like my dream of all of my family & friends living on a compound somewhere in the south...except it's a condo building with our neighbors in Chicago. Gotta start small. Anyway, they had our pups for the day (per usual) so we went down to their place for dinner & invitation assembling. Charlene is a fellow crafter/do it yourselfer so she jumped right in & Rich played his valued role as puppy wrangler. All in all it didn't take long & we had a really good time.

So here we are. The stamped & addressed wedding invitations are on their way to their destinations & we are counting down the 6 short weeks to the wedding. Since I'm already on a bridal rant here I want to give credit to the people who made the invitations so amazing. #1 the designer, Ngaire Locking of Greetings Oscar in Melbourne Australia. Yes, Australia but we found Greetings Oscar via Etsy, my favorite wedding shopping site. She was & continues to be amazing as we finalize many other pieces of the suite for the big day. #2 the printer, Bates Printing. They were fast, affordable & amazing. They'll be doing the rest of our printing for the wedding for sure.

So that's the "exciting happenings" around here. We're off to Canada this afternoon for the annual Sigma Chi Hockey Tournament. This trip is a belated birthday trip for Greg & we're both excited. It's my first time to Canada so I'm sure there'll be lots of pictures. Stay tuuuuuuuuuned!

Happy Friday Friendlies,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Business

So I've been in my graduate program for 3 semesters now & I'm about to start my LAST. SEMESTER. Before I graduate though I have to complete a internship. Lucky for ME I'm doing my internship at the Northwestern Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. Even LUCKIER is that my first project was 2012 Panhellenic Recruitment. Originally this opportunity had absolutely zero conflicts associated with it...until  a few weeks ago when I stepped into a role as chapter advisor for the Zeta chapter at Northwestern. Even with dual "responsibilities" I was still able to give my full attention to my internship as OFSL staff & made some time to check in with my chapter. But wait...there's more...our National President, Mrs. Riddle came for recruitment so I also got to spend a lot of quality time talking & laughing with her & hearing the big dreams that National Council has for Zeta Tau Alpha. I still can't believe this is my life.

Even with all of the happiness & excitement around this time of year, the process of formal recruitment for both the women going through the process & the chapters looking to add members can be very business like. We started with around 600 women who all visited each of our 12 chapters to see who they connected most with. On day 1 it all seems really easy & fun & everyone is having great success meeting people they have things in common with. Then everybody makes their choices of who they liked the best, we all go to sleep & start again the next day. On day 2 it gets a little complicated. Some of the women that loved particular chapters don't get to go back to that house, and vice versa. This turn of events can be at least a little emotional for some women, but we are usually able to turn each PNM's attention to the silver lining & move forward with the process. Then everybody makes their choices of who they liked the best, we all go to sleep & start again the next day. On day 3, things get more than a little complicated, & the process continues into day 5 when emotions are high, expectations are higher & everybody's hopes are up & hearts are set on ONE particular chapter or member. When it's time to come to a close, everybody meets together & the matches between unaffiliated women & the respective chapters are made & everybody runs off  (for the most part) to join their new sisters for a Bid Night celebration.

Even as I write this it can read a little corporate, a little processed & mechanic. Even though I know the purpose & benefits of all of the working parts, I can still see how this experience can be overwhelming to participants, & unnecessary to observers. This is the business side of sorority membership, and it does seem a little impersonal. But somebody who sees only this business side could never truly understand what sorority women are in the business of doing.

Sorority women are in the business of building a stronger womanhood. We are in the business of strengthening identities, challenging values, & encouraging excellence. We are in the business of forming supportive relationships, lifelong friendships & motivational mentorships. We are in the business of connecting women to professional opportunities. We are in the business of demanding equitable educational and professional opportunities for women. We are in the business of protecting & promoting each other. We are in the business of sisterhood.

My sisterhood has been about the business of making me better since I was a barely affiliated woman who couldn't be bothered to attend a chapter meeting or a social event. I was overly committed to the wrong things & barely committed to the right ones. I intentionally alienated myself & rejected sisterhood whenever possible. But they never gave up. They finally pulled me in, gave me the opportunity to do something that mattered, set goals that challenged me, pushed me to academic excellence, and reunited me with values I believe in.  Zeta Tau Alpha was about the business of developing me as a student leader, which in turn inspired me to help other women become leaders & Zeta Tau Alpha has been about the business of my education so that I can achieve that goal.  Zeta is about the business of patiently waiting for me, and letting me go from barely affiliated to strategizing with the National President about ways to empower other chapter members.  Zeta Tau Alpha has been about the business of making me a woman of character & values who believes that college women are valuable, brilliant, capable, talented & worthy members of their campus & the community.

I know that I'm not the only Panhellenic woman who credits her membership for lifelong leadership development & support. But I also know that sometimes observers who only see "the business" side of sorority membership undervalue it. And even though I can appreciate how things can seem that way, I know that the real business of sorority membership is, to inspire other women to be the very best they can be in everything that they do. The thing I do because of ZTA is the business of students, where I get to volunteer my time with some of the most amazing & talented PHA student leaders I've ever met, & watch them support each other, counsel each other, & administer one of the most technically difficult programs on a college campus. I have my sorority sisters & mentors to thank for introducing me to this business & helping me do the same for other women. Thank you ZTA.