The Happiest Business Trip on Earth Pt 2

Here’s round two of my advice for the best business trip ever!

1. Bring a clipboard with built in storage. Your local office supply store will have them. Here’s an example from walmart. Mine doesn’t have the separate pencil holder.I love it as an alternative between a simple folder and a three ring binder. I can keep all of my important papers without worrying about them getting destroyed in my bag.

2. Thank you cards: You’ll definitely want to bring a few thank you or even blank cards to write. Everything from the housekeeping staff to friends throughout the week.

3. Do whatever you can before you leave for the trip. One of the things our convention does is let you buy little flowers for people to put on their name tags in exchange for  donation to our foundation. Save yourself time and money by buying those before you leave home!

4. Bring a cup with a lid. At these conferences, they’ll usually have pitchers of water and glasses. What happens when you have to set your glass down while talking to a friend? Your glass joins the other 18 glasses on the table. Save yourself the hassle. Make sure it has a lid to prevent spills. Note: Bringing your own cup doesn’t mean you should ignore the venue’s rules about food/drinks.

5. Bring your own snacks.
If you’re looking to save some cash, and you have the ability to do so, swing by the local grocery store to pick up light snacks like crackers or pretzels. You won’t have to worry about traveling with them or spending tons of money in a vending machine. If you have a fridge in your room, you have more options.

6. Surge Protector/outlet strip
Someone recommended this to me, and I thought it was brilliant. Think about the number of items you’ll need electricity for: cell phone, laptop, hair dryer/other hair tools. Plus, you’ll be rooming with other people. This is brilliant.

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The Happiest Business Trip On Earth Pt 1

At the end of June, my sorority is having our national convention in Disney World. If you know anything about me, you know my family loves Disney. This Convention is a culmination of some of my favorite things in the world: Disney, business sessions that actually use parliamentary procedure, dressing up, and being with my sorority sisters. In 2010, I attended my first convention as a collegiate member. I remember being a bit intimidated;so, I’m going to compile some of my best tips for heading to Convention.

1. Pack adequately, but lightly.
Over packing not only can cause you extras fees at the airport but it can also lead to having a million things thrown around your hotel room. I am notorious for over packing. You can find a ton of suggestion on pinterest about how to pack lightly. I suggest packing 2 extra outfits in case of spills or simply not wanting to wear something you’ve packed.  Also, find a carry on bag that you can use as your tote for the weekend. I splurged and bought myself  a new bag from Vera Bradley. Their patterns are fun but also classy. Here’s their grand tote. Is your event giving you any free shirts? Plan to wear it during casual time or during your trip home. Use the accommodation’s laundry service or wear a tank under them.

2.  Always have some cash with you.
Don’t rely on plastic. Some places in the airport or the convention center won’t take debit/credit cards. Also, if you’re traveling a large distance, most credit card companies have identity theft features that may flag your account for out of state purchases. Always notify your bank/credit card companies if you’ll be traveling out of town.

3. Always have a business card to give your contact information.
Although you’ll know a good amount of people, you’ll definitely be meeting a lot of new faces. Having a business card will save you the time of trying to write down your contact information, especially if it’s not a convenient time. Don’t have a business card? Me either. All I did was get some card stock and make them on Word. They’re not the fanciest cards ever, but they serve their purpose.

3.  Don’t cling to the friends you already have.
Obviously, you’ll want to spend time with your friends who are also attending the conference, but make sure you don’t become inseparable. This is a great time to branch out and network.

4. Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Do your dress shoes hurt your feet after time? Have a pair of flats you can slip into your bag right before walking into business sessions. This way, if the elevator is full and you’re stuck taking the stairs, you will still be able to walk the next day!

5. Warn your family/friends at home that you won’t have a lot of free time.
Our convention happens once every three years. I only see some of these women at Convention. I always remind family/friends that I’ll be unavailable for our normal chats until I get home. I’ll text my mom a general “Hey, love you. See you in a few days” but she knows we won’t be having a 20 minute discussion about the latest episode of her favorite show.

I think those are my best tips for now.  Stay tuned for specifics about packing, using your time wisely, and other miscellaneous tips.

“We’re still believing for a miracle.”

So, one of my jobs is working in the office of a camp. One of the things I do is process donations that people send in. Many times, these donations come along with letters. I’ve been so blessed by the stories I’ve been able to read. Not only to hear what God is doing in their lives, but by what these letters say about where I work. Some of them are simple hello notes. Others are detailed and heartfelt.  It’s like reading a letter from your closest friends. We get to hear the joy of marriages, births, and family members dedicating their lives to God. We also hear of the physical pain, family struggles, and hurt people experience. What is most powerful to me, is that people trust us as a ministry with the intimate details of their lives.

A few weeks ago, we received a donation with a simple post it note.

“We’re still believing for a miracle for John.”

I don’t know who they were or what was wrong with John, but this woman, his wife, fully believed a miracle was coming. Her boldness was encouraging. She knew her prayers were heard, and that her God would not forget her. I’m sure others from my work knew this couple personally. They were emotionally attached to these people. To me, they were simply a name on a check.

This afternoon, I had an email from my boss about donations. We had set up a new memorial fund for donations. A man had passed away, and his wife had requested any money be sent to our retreat as a donation.  So, I went about my day processing donations. I came across that same note. This time, the name was familiar. Within weeks of the woman sending us the note declaring her faith, that she knew a miracle was coming, her dear husband had died.

I wondered if she remember the note she had written and felt disappointed, or even angry at God. She wrote that note with conviction, and within a month, her husband had died. She was anticipating healing and a longer life for him, and instead his life on Earth is over. The man that she married, had children with, and loved is gone. Was God not listening? Why would He abandon this couple, who clearly loved Him, during their greatest time of need? Why would God withhold a miracle from her? He is obviously capable of healing her husband. Why did healing not come? The questions must be endless. I doubt the explanations come easily. In the midst of what so many would see as tragic and unfair, I believe she has peace in knowing that God is still faithful.

This couple may not be able to be together in this life anymore. Healing of whatever medical condition did not happen here, but John isn’t here anymore. During his life, he was pursued by the Creator of the entire universe. From that day on John’s life was never the same. Because of that, John’s life doesn’t end with his time on Earth. As John stands before God today, he is completely healed. He is free from whatever sickness held him back in this world. He has been perfected by the love of our God. Although John isn’t with his wife right now, she will join him one day.

Until that happens, God is still with her. He promised He would never abandon her. Through every painful moment, she is in the palm of His hand. She was a loving and faithful wife, and her marriage was simply one of many blessings from God. Those questions don’t need to plague her. She knows that God has so much more for us. The trouble we experience here is only temporary.

For me, it’s a reminder that every single day is a miracle in itself. It’s a miracle to me that God would love me so much that he would give up Jesus, His only son and allow Him to take my place. I know how many times a day I mess things up. That never-ending list of sin should separate me from God forever. I don’t deserve the good things that have come my way. It doesn’t make sense that God would do this,  but that’s exactly what miracles do. They defy everything we know and turn our world upside down. They remind us that there is a force much greater in this world, and there is a comfort for those who know the source of that force.  So, regardless of circumstance, there is peace for John’s wife. There is peace for all of us. No matter what we face, our God is faithful.

I still believe” is a song by Jeremy Camp. It’s definitely worth a listen. The words talk about how we are able to still believe in God in spite of any situation we face.

The Break Up

This is a post I rescued from my old blog. It was written around 2011.

“No matter the letter, we’re all Greek together.”

We as Fraternal organizations have the “we’re all in this together” understanding: the idea that we need to support one another to survive. I whole-heartedly believe that our fraternity and sorority chapters need to work together for true progress to be made. Without cooperation, our organizations will eventually wither and die.

However, I do believe that there is one thing more important than our expected loyalty to one another, adherance and loyalty to our personal and organizational beliefs. Do we support and encourage those who abuse animals or children? No. Why? Because we believe it is wrong. Do we rally behind those who commit violent crimes such as murder, assault, or rape? No, because we don’t find it morally acceptable.

The cold hard truth is that there are individuals and groups who engage in activities that do not support our values. Why then, should we feel bound to encourage their growth and success? Would we expect a person in an abusive relationship to feel bound to their partner or would we find their leaving justified?

I proudly come from an organization that values the worth of all people. I was taught that the confidence, esteem, and wellbeing of others is important. Leading or participating in activities that degrade, disrespect, or harm (whether it be physically, emotionally, or mentally) another person does not align with my values.

When your idea of “instilling respect” means using racial slurs and yelling profanity in order to establish superiority, I lose faith in the respect you’ve shown me. When your idea of “brotherhood (sisterhood) activities” includes vandalizing the campus we both call home, I doubt the “pride” you’ve shown in serving our community. When your “new member education” is making them do your chores, walk in lines blindfolded, and complete lists of scavenger hunts, I stop having a reason to be loyal to your organization.

When your idea of “leaving a legacy” means passing on the tradition of these degrading and dangerous habits, I question how long your organization will last.

We’ve tried to talk this out, but you refuse to understand. You don’t want to change, and I refuse to be a part of this anymore. So, until you return to the men and women who value character and ethics over these behaviors, we’re breaking up. We want to help you rise above this, but we can’t help you if you don’t want it.We’re through.

The Ultimatum

This is a post I rescued from my old blog. I wrote it in order to help a chapter member  I was working with express her frustrations with her chapter’s situation. She would always compare it to a dying relationship. So, this is the ultimatum.

I don’t know where we went wrong. Things between us have been shaky for a while now, and  I’m starting to wonder if we will survive. Things weren’t always this way. I remember when things were different.

I’ll never forget when we first met. You walked in the door, and I couldn’t have been happier. I knew we could be perfect for each other  if you’d just give me a chance. I knew you had heard plenty of bad things about me, but I hoped you would take a chance,look past the rumors, and commit to me. Who knew, you could be the one I’ve been waiting for- the one to turn it all around.

Then, one day a few months later, you knelt in front of me and promised to take care of me forever. It was an enormous commitment, and I would have understood if you wanted to wait. But you said you wanted me to be a part of your life forever, that you’d protect me,share what is important to me,and love me faithfully. After your beliefs and the family you already had, I was going to be important to you.

Since then, I’ve done my best to give you everything. I’ve opened the door  to many things, introduced you to people who could help you, and more than anything, I was a source of support and acceptance. I thought that was all we could ever need.

But I’m not perfect. We hit a few bumps,and I let you down. That’s when you started doubting how much I meant to you. You stopped doing the little things that meant the most. Little by little, I  felt you slipping away,but there was nothing I could do. I had to let you make your own choices.

And that’s what brings us here.A choice. We can’t last like this anymore.I don’t want to leave you, but if things don’t get better, I won’t be around here much longer. I can’t hold onto something that isn’t there anymore. This is my last resort.If you still love me and want to make this work, things need to change. You say you still care about me,but your actions tell a different story. Your words aren’t enough anymore.

If you aren’t willing to work for this relationship, we will cease to exist. Please. Don’t just tell me you want to make this work. Show me there’s a way for us to survive. What we have is special. People search their entire lives, and some never find it. So many doubt that what we have is real. Help me prove them wrong.

                                                          – Sorority

Why Do I Bother?

This is a post I rescued from my old blog. I wrote it back in fall 2011 when I started volunteering for my sorority. There was this one weekend that was ridiculous. I had chapter members fighting about petty things, an “emergency” phone call that was definitely not a real emergency, and a million non-sorority related things to do. I remember stationing myself on the couch and thinking “why do I even do this?” After calming down, this post was my answer.

So, this is my first semester of being a regional volunteer for my sorority. I sometimes deal with not so life threatening emergencies, women sweating the small stuff, and sometimes, just plain old drama. Before this, I was President of my chapter, and I dealt with similar things. My non-Greek friends don’t understand why I do it if all I get is petty arguments between sisters, impromptu phone calls while I’m hanging out with friends, or about 10 emails/texts a day about trivial things. Sometimes, I find myself asking the same question. Why do I bother?

Why do I go out of my way to talk a member through an issue they’re having? Why do I answer my phone when I know that this woman will probably not fully take my advice- she didn’t the first two times I gave it to her. Why do I get so intense about keeping up with the problems people bring up to me?

Because three years ago, I promised to. I promised to care about my sorority, local, national and everything in between. I stood in front of other people and told them I’d be a loyal and faithful person in their life. I promised to conduct myself in a way that is worthy of the badge I am privileged to wear. It’s all because of that promise.

Throughout life, we’ve each suffered our share of broken promises. People who said they’d do something and just never followed through. Think about the Lion King. No, for real. There’s the part where Simba runs away, grows older, and is talking with Timon and Pumba about the stars. When he walks away, he looks to the sky (where his father said he’d be) and says ” You said you’d always be there for me, but you’re not.” Simba knows about broken promises.All of us do. But I believe it ends with me. I refuse to be that person who lets them down. I refuse to let myself down. I believe in the promise I made and what it means to keep my word. If I can’t keep that promise, how can I expect anyone else to do the same?

I don’t want my future sisters to “be in the same boat.” I don’t want them to mistrust outside resources because no one is reliable. I don’t want them to feel like they’re alone. Most importantly, I want them to know that this is a promise worth keeping.

Starting Over

Fun fact: the website where I used to have a blog closed;so, my blog got deleted.  C’est le vie. Life goes on. I’m taking this as a chance to actually blog. For about 6 months in 2010, I kept up with blogging. Then, it all went down hill. I’m going to be more intentional about blogging. (Oh, how many times have I said that!) I mean it this time.

Tonight, after work, I sat out on the deck and saw and watched deer in the field for literally an hour. Minus the sound of cars at the intersection, it’s been a really relaxing evening. Sometimes, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t live in the country. I can sit out back looking completely socially unacceptable, blast the Glee version of popular songs(because I believe they’re better), be on pinterest, and not be concerned about other people being around.  I’m able to just sit and get lost looking at the mountains. I’m not worrying about what needs to be done

I’m one of those people who love to be busy, always doing something or going somewhere. This is an excellent reminder to slow down. So, stop making excuses and slow down. I think we’d all be much happier if we did. Speaking of happiness, here’s one of my faves from Darren Criss(Blaine on Glee). Yes, It’s a Katy Perry song. No judgement zone.

Maybe you’re not the “fan girl over Darren Criss” types. Maybe you don’t like nature. That’s okay, too. Go do something that makes you happy. Life’s too short to be anything else.