Sitting in the New Orleans airport waiting out a flight delay, and am excited and ready to share all that I experienced and learned from my first annual visit set of 2017! I’ve spent the last 10 days in the great state of Louisiana, where I have met some incredible women and eaten some great food. Man, it has been so good!
My time with the members of Tulane was the greatest way to kick off my semester of travel. These girls are smart, passionate, driven, authentic women who love and lead Chi Omega well. I kept telling the gals throughout the week that they just “get it.” These girls understand that Chi Omega is about support and care and providing encouragement when people are passionate about something or when they need help. The idea of being encouraged forever really struck a chord with them. So much so that Tulane Chi Omega has made it their theme for this next year! I thought that was the coolest idea.
There were a few moments in particular throughout the week that stood out to me. During our leadership workshop, the gals were sharing some incredible thoughts about how they wanted their chapter to grow. One member shared the thought that Chi Omega will never stop giving back to you. And I LOVED that. It is so true. No matter how we may treat Chi Omega, it will never stop giving to us whether that is through friendship or opportunity or support, it will always be there for our members. I am so inspired by their love for Chi Omega and their recognition of the impact it has had on their lives.
I am also thankful I got to spend some time in New Orleans and stay at the Columns Hotel. It was such a treat getting to stay in such a historic hotel right on St. Charles! My new friends also showed me around and took care of my New Orleans food experience. From touristy Cafe Du Monde to the local St. James cheese store, they treated me so well. I had so many great meals during my time there, but two meals stood out to me. On Valentine’s Day, three gals and I went downtown to a fancy seafood restaurant and had a GREAT time. It was us amongst all of these couples, but I was so glad to get to spend my day with these girls. I also had a blast with the advisors and could not stop laughing during my time with them. It was clear they were all such good friends, which is so encouraging to see.
There was one night where I got to enjoy some live music in the hotel as I worked one evening. The man singing asked me, Who would send someone to New Orleans to work during Carnival season?? Little did he know that indeed I sent myself here during this season on purpose. The girls also surprised me with a King Cake for our last meeting, which was so incredibly thoughtful of them! It was my first one and I got the piece with the baby in it! Maybe I’ll need to send them one now…
Overall, I am so thankful to have begun my visits for the semester with Rho. These women understand the meaning of Chi Omega and how impactful the relationships are that we make in this organization. I find myself more than ever referring to my job with Chi Omega as a gift. It truly is–Chi Omega never stops giving to me no matter what it is that I am doing. Every conversation matters in my work and I love each opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. I am so encouraged from them. These girls genuinely love Chi Omega and all it provides.
We had some rainy weather driving out of New Orleans, but we made it safely to my next destination–McNeese State! McNeese and Tulane are very different schools in very different cities. I enjoy the challenge that my job can bring me sometimes in those ways. Lake Charles is a smaller city, with the most friendly people, who deeply care for their community.
My time at McNeese was fairly short, but even still, I left feeling very loved and encouraged. One of their advisors, Ms. Robbie, gives the BEST hugs. They will change the course of your whole day I swear! Another member came up to me after my presentation telling me that what I was doing was meaningful and that I was exactly where I should be. That encouragement meant a lot to me after a long weekend of meetings.
I appreciated the sweetness and sincerity of these gals. They were always wanting to do what was right and do it the right way. Most of these women have been in or around Lake Charles their whole lives, so it was beautiful to see these women so heavily invested in their community and their chapter. Their love and deep care for their members shown in their intentionality, and I am glad I got to experience it. I am so proud of this team already and am excited to watch them grow and carry on the strong legacy of this chapter.
Last, but not least, I headed over to Baton Rouge to visit the one and only, LSU. And these gals were amazing! Never have I felt more welcomed at a chapter before in my life. They wrote me a big card and individual cards, made me a basket with goodies inside, AND painted me a banner, A BANNER. I will never get over the banner. These girls go above and beyond the call of duty.
While I was at LSU, I shared some meaningful conversations and moments. I got to see the Panhellenic Delegate put on an outstanding King Cake with Chi O event. I got to get coffee with a member and talk about how we can better love one another. I got to witness them support and walk with a member who was going through something unspeakably hard that week. I love being able to tell these women how proud I am of them in the big and small things. The connections I have with these gals also always blows my mind–like when two gals at TCU who I led as a Recruitment Counselor are best friends with the Recruitment Chair at LSU?? I love connecting and sharing lives-the world really is a small place y’all. It was a blessing to get to work with such an outstanding chapter. All three of these chapters are doing so much good.
Something that I took away from all three of these chapters was the impact advisors have on our members. And on me. It is so reassuring to hear an advisor listen to me and tell me “Mere, this stage of life is tough. You WILL get through it though, and you have so much time. Take this time to learn about yourself and grow.” These women do incredible things and care about their chapters so deeply. They are rocking full-time jobs and families and community involvement and advising like it’s nobody’s business. I hope to mentor and love college ladies like these advisors do. God knows how much mine have meant to me.
To close out this longer post, I want to share a moment this morning that gave me chills. I visited a friend from school in New Orleans after wrapping up my work trips, so I could have some Mardi Gras fun. In my friend’s room is a sign that reads Wherever you are, be all there. This morning, I woke up to a daily text I receive from this awesome website called Shine, and it read Today, wherever you are, be all there. Naturally, I ran into my friend’s room screaming because it was crazy to me that that quote was in her room and that I got a text with the exact same quote in it while being there.
Not only does this remind me of God’s presence in my life, that he orchestrates moments like this for me to remember that he is HERE, but it was a screaming reminder of this truth for me, too. That I do need to be all there in the moments I am in. I am sick of being distracted by my phone or worries in my head. I know I will enjoy life to the full if I give my all in every moment I am in.
I am ending my adventures in Louisiana more thankful than ever. More reassured of God’s presence. More confident that this job is exactly what I should be doing. I’m leaving it with new friends and a new determination to be all there, wherever I am.