I’ve officially reached my final month of consulting. (What?) In my typical fashion, I get reflective as chapters are ending, and today I’m reminded of the two words that have gotten me through the tough moments of this year. I first heard them together in January 2016 as I sat in the boardroom of our headquarters to interview for this job. I remember the million questions I had about what life on the road would bring, as Wendy, our Executive Director, thanked us for coming to interview and encouraged us to think honestly about whether we were ready for the challenge. “We look for two main qualities in our consultants that will allow them to succeed: an equal balance of grace and grit.”

Grace and grit.

These two words sum up my experience as a Leadership Consultant more than any narrative I could write about a chapter visit. This work takes grace: an ability to trust people you’ve never met and to see the positive even amidst tough circumstances. We interact with a whole host of people from different chapters, communities and places, and we learn to come into a new situation and build rapport with people in just a few days. It takes an honest analysis of your own strengths and challenges and a desire to work independently. Having grace at all times means you have the humility to recognize your own limited perspective and learn from the experiences of others. It takes a reality check, a great deal of patience and a genuine connection to the value of your work.

Equally, if not even more important to me this year, has been been the word grit. I’ve never considered myself a particularly gritty person, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed that that this would ever become a personal byword of mine. Having grit means more than just being tough: it means sticking to it when there are a million things being thrown at you that you weren’t prepared to handle. It means honoring your commitments even when you want to turn the other way. It means getting in there, doing difficult things, and having a sense of persistence through it all. Gritty people are willing to go the distance. They don’t quit when situations are far from glamorous or ideal. They fight for what they know is right even when it’s hard. I love that quality and I want to be that way.  This job has given me the resilience to weather a hurricane, and for that I could not be more thankful.

Twenty six more days until I readjust to “real life,” and I am very ready for the consistency and routine of having a regular schedule and a community to claim as mine. However, I’m damn grateful and proud of the lessons this year has taught me, and I won’t soon forget a single one of them. I’ve learned to speak up, to appreciate solitude and to adapt to any given circumstance or challenge. I’ve learned to say thank you, I’m sorry and you’re welcome, to make a home out of a place I’ve never seen before and to welcome the adversity of never getting comfortable. I’ve learned that people are surprisingly kind when you don’t deserve it and that strangers are sometimes the best people with which to share a meal.

Thank you to everyone in my life who has made this year worth it (you know who you are). I am a different person because of it. Here’s to the final stretch!


I’m sitting in a Brooklyn coffee shop on this rainy Sunday listening to John Mayer’s “Born and Raised” (like any trendy twenty-something Southern girl, I know, but he’s my favorite) and the song ‘Love is a Verb’ is playing through my headphones and getting me thinking. Not just about love and its existence as an action word, but about a very similar verb: live.

live (v) — to act out or practice; to experience firsthand; to exhibit vigor, gusto, or enthusiasm in

I’ve just spent the weekend in New York City, a place I appreciate for its diversity, complexity and character. Every time I visit I’m reminded of how alive this place feels: alive with hope, frustration and opportunity all at once. It never stops moving and yet somehow remains consistent and life-giving in the midst of all that change. Being here makes live feel less like a state of existence and more like a call to action.

And as I get caught up in my own day-to-day routine, I’m trying to remind myself of this too. How often do we let life happen to us rather than choosing to take it on, for all its charming, chaotic and unexpected moments? People are creatures of habit, I know, and it’s easy to be distracted by our to-do lists and tasks to be accomplished before a project is done. We even make lists and countdowns until the “next big thing,” thinking: “I’ll be happy when…” “I’ll make that trip one day…”Someday when my circumstances are different I’ll accomplish that goal…”

I’m such a planner. I’m such a “next big thing” person. But what if I stopped, took a breath and tried to make live into an action verb, not tomorrow, not next week, but today? I don’t want to sit by and miss out on a moment because I’m too caught up in creating the perfect life. And as confusing and strange as a moment can be, it is the collection of these tiny seconds that makes us into who we are. Here’s a favorite from poet Emily Dickinson: “Forever – is composed of nows.”

Are you going to let those ‘now’ moments happen to you or are you really going to take them in? Let’s make live into an action verb, an opportunity to embrace life fully and make the most of this short time we’re given. You have one chance to experience today, no matter how overwhelming, confusing or even routine it may seem. Get out there and live it.


I’m not sorry for speaking up at the table yesterday. The words were uttered in haste, a meek apology for stating my opinion when I worried it might contradict your own.

I’m not sorry for the time I moved my chair to make room for yours next to me. In fairness, I arrived first, and I know it is an act of common courtesy to give you space. Yet the rushed apology comes spilling from my lips all the same.

I’m not sorry for the time I spoke over you on accident, so eager to share my news that we both announced “Guess what?” at the same moment. “Oh, sorry, you go first.” I surrender my enthusiasm to listen to what you have to say.

I’m not sorry for saying exactly what I felt. It was raw, imperfect truth that took bravery to muster. Yet for some reason unbeknownst to either of us, I make my own utterances conditional on their convenience to the lives of others.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

I find myself articulating this phrase more commonly than even I realize. I cannot count the number of times I have hurried to say sorry for occurrences as simple and routine as breathing, moving or stating my thoughts. Though this is not a conscious act, it arises from something deeper, a custom that ever so subtly reminds women that our opinions are “less than” and should be shared only when they do not disrupt the status quo. Since when are we required to apologize simply for existing? We may not notice it in the moment, but it occurs every day, a barely-there reminder that perhaps we do not believe our voices are as valuable as we should.

Here is my challenge for you and for myself this year: stop apologizing for being who you are. The phrase “I’m sorry” exists for moments when a wrong has been committed, not when you have unwittingly intervened in someone else’s life or space. Be bold. Own your opinions. Speak up at the table and speak first when you need to be heard. The best way to combat a culture of “less than” is by embracing an “equal to” sense of spirit and worth.

I said it. I meant it.

And I’m not sorry.


Happy Sunday, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written an update on my consultant travels, but 2017 has been busy so far and I’m excited to share stories. I’ve worked in three different time zones this month, with three very different but equally admirable groups of women. Here’s a recap:

January 10-15: Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia

I kicked off my second semester on the road with a trip to our Gamma Lambda Chapter to provide support during Primary Recruitment. A brief history: Longwood is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States, and it was the founding campus of four different NPC sororities: Kappa Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha, Alpha Sigma Alpha and Sigma Sigma Sigma. Safe to say this place is rooted in tradition and proud of its tightly knit community. The school has approximately 4,500 students and made headlines this year for hosting the United States Vice Presidential Debate back in October. Farmville, the town surrounding the university, has this sweet southern charm and lovely, historic downtown area.

Greek life is prominent at Longwood with nine different NPC chapters, and due to the small student population each chapter has around forty total members. This creates a personal, authentic sisterhood that is unlike anything you can experience on a larger campus. These women are truly like family, and they made me feel welcome with home-cooked meals, a tour of their school and a collection of chapter t-shirts. They spoiled me over here for sure.



January 15-28: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California

After a travel day that felt like it would never end (thanks, United), I arrived in San Luis Obispo (SLO) to work with our Delta Phi Chapter during their winter quarter recruitment. Delta Phi is one of our newer Alpha Gam groups; they started in January 2016 and I get the opportunity to work with them consistently throughout this semester. Spending time with another group of founding members reminds me of the beauty of creating something brand new like this–these women are making history on this campus and forging a legacy that will last for years. They’re breathing life into the line of our Purpose that states, “To cultivate acquaintance with many whom I meet.” They’ve also taught me a few crucial elements of California culture: never, ever call it Cali (oops) and workout clothes are a way of life. Count me in.

As for SLO, it’s this ridiculously beautiful town along the central coast surrounded by mountains, beaches and some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve witnessed. I feel like a kid on Christmas just driving to campus every morning. I took a day last week to drive up the coast to Big Sur and have lunch at a coffee shop overlooking the ocean cliffs. Remind me again… I get to be here for work? Is this real? (the best!)


January 28-February 7: Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas

This week I’m back in the Little Apple, practically my home after spending time here on and off since August. The women of Epsilon Chi are so special to me and I love getting to hear all their updates every time I return. Plus, I’m taking a mini trip this weekend to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, and my inner history buff is squealing with joy.

In just two short days I’m headed to meet my coworkers in San Marcos, Texas, where we’ll be hard at work establishing our newest chapter at Texas State University this month. Send some well wishes our way as we recruit a group of brand new sisters, and as always, I can’t wait to share what I’m learning!




Let me start by saying something that will surprise no one: I LIVED for the Women’s March on Washington this weekend. It took everything in me not to hop on a plane to DC or New York and walk in solidarity with so many fearless, determined (and did I mention creative?) human beings. Nothing breathes life into me like seeing people put their beliefs into action, and this movement is a compelling example of the power of peaceful opposition. It still gives me chills.

That being said, I needed a way to feel like I could participate from California. On Saturday morning, not unlike any other day, I woke up, slipped on my leggings and bright blue sneakers and stepped outside for a run. The best thing about being on the central coast in mid-January is that the weather, though rainy this past week, stays just warm enough to help motivate me to get out of bed. I chose a path I hadn’t taken before, up a hill toward an orange grove and then around the engineering buildings on campus. The air was cool, just a bit humid, with the sunshine barely peeking through clouds that had been lingering overhead for several days. I, of course, was so taken with the landscape that I almost forgot my way home.

Anyone who knows me well is probably familiar with my love affair with running. I write about it often because it remains a source of constancy and focus for me, no matter my outside circumstances. Running is something I will always have; it is uniquely mine and an expression of the power of my physical body. Though I love it for many reasons, maybe the most important is that it makes me feel strong, both mentally and physically. And on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between running and the values this Women’s March espouses: equality, resilience and strength.

As women, we are taught from an early age to be delicate, graceful and charming. We wear dresses, curl our hair and change our last names to match our husband’s. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, I don’t think women are encouraged often enough to appreciate the fortitude present in our bodies. We are expected to be beautiful, but strong? Not always the case. I took up running because it made me feel powerful in a society where I am expected to compromise my ambitions simply because I am female. If I couldn’t out-earn the men in my life, I knew without a doubt I could outrun them.

What if my method of speaking up, of expressing my frustration with political leadership that does not protect my interests, starts with putting on a pair of shoes? What if my singular act of resistance could be as simple as placing one foot in front of another on the ground?

I run because I am a woman, because I am courageous and purposeful and strong. I run because I live in a world that might have me choose between raising a family and working in an office, then immediately offer criticism about the path I designate for myself. I run because I am taught to be wary, to keep an eye out for predators, to present myself in a certain way because although I should strive to be desirable, I could also be asking for unwanted attention.

I run because I refuse to let society dictate my worth. My hope is that the Women’s March inspires many to speak up for what they value, and I know for certain it makes me feel proud to be part of this democracy. At times when the political climate feels more divided than ever, it is refreshing to watch a showing of such solidarity, spirit and support.

As for me, I will continue to practice this one thing I know best… to run.

foreword (n) – a short introductory essay preceding the text of a book / forward (adv) – movement onward so as to make progress

I am an expert at looking like an expert. (without really being one at all)

Can I get an ‘amen’ from all my fiercely motivated perfectionists out there? We work so hard to tie life up in a neat little bow when the reality sometimes looks more like the aftermath of a tornado. I cannot tell you the number of times I have set an unrealistic prediction for myself with full intention of accomplishing it, even though the likelihood of it going according to plan is nothing short of impossible. I’m sure my fellow idealists will agree that this go-getter mentality gets us places, but it comes at the expense of our personal well-being if we aren’t careful to keep it in check.

When the expectation I set for myself is perfection, the reality is that I will constantly be falling short, and as a result, always frustrated with myself. I want to enjoy the learning process that comes along with messing up, but truthfully I can’t seem to let myself catch a break. Be better, let it go, move on, I tell myself. But also, don’t let it happen in the first place.

Frankly, though, since when am I the authority on having it all together? Why can’t I find the grace to be kinder to myself? Letting go of things is painful, especially in this odd set of circumstances where I’m having trouble looking forward clearly. The people who know me deeply, who understand my competitive personality, my dry sense of humor and this unrelenting tendency to be tough on myself, are not people who share my physical space. I’m living now in this setting where I get to be independent, adventurous and constantly moving- my dream environment both personally and professionally. The chance to travel and meet new people every week is something I have to pinch myself about as a reminder that it’s real. It’s inspiring, motivating and never the same day twice, and it has fundamentally changed the way I look at the world.

However, I’m seeing more and more that without any sort of grounding, I’m left without a clear understanding of who I am and what I actually want. I, who tout my stubborn independence like a shiny badge of honor, need community more than ever. I am fraying at the seams without it. This year is humbling me in a profound way, teaching me to strike a balance between wanting to do it all and admitting my earnest need for people who know my heart.

Community brings us life in the most dynamic, enriching way. I am so, so grateful for it and ready to make it more of a priority. By the end of this year I hope to be in a new place entirely, which I know comes with a whole different set of challenges and a willingness to put myself out there and start fresh. Creating community is active. It requires vulnerability, an appreciation for loneliness and a desire to establish something brand new. It’s scary, but it’s also decidedly freeing. I love the idea of seeking out people who will make me better by loving me exactly where I am. This is my foreword, the beginning chapter of a story unfolding in greater ways than I could ever hope to plan. And you know what? That in itself is a grand exercise in letting go.




One of the perks of having parents who live in the country (or as I so affectionately refer to it, the middle of nowhere) is that it provides an atmosphere of total quiet in the midst of life’s noise. Coming home for vacation is often a much-needed escape, especially for someone like me who tends to run full speed ahead without knowing how or when to stop and breathe. Not to mention, it has the most beautiful nighttime view of the stars I have ever seen. I tell people this all the time when I’m describing my childhood home to them, but I wish a photograph or short summary could do it justice. The total dark of the Tennessee wilderness on a clear night lends a view of the sky that is breathtaking, humbling and just absolutely remarkable.

My late drive home tonight had me thinking about how disjointed I am feeling these last several months. Life right now reminds me of a newly opened puzzle box, probably with about a million pieces that are supposed to fit together into some glorious grand finale, except that I haven’t a clue how to arrange them in that order. I am in the midst of one of life’s most unsettled, lonely and confusing seasons, and that is the honest truth, no matter how often photo evidence and cheery exchanges may favor the contrary. It’s challenging and worth every moment, and I am immensely grateful, but I’m also working hard to acknowledge that it’s okay to say, “Yep, this period of life is tough.” Closing the door on 2016 will truthfully feel like a breath of fresh air.

Back to the stars, though–I pulled into the drive tonight and was instantly struck by the vastness of the sky and the reminder of how small I am in the grand scheme of the world. Every single star is one spot in the midst of trillions, yet it holds complete ownership of its particular brightness and space. And stars, just like puzzle pieces, are each one tiny facet of a bigger picture, one that is impossible to see if we focus too much on every tiny detail. Just noticing one star would be nothing spectacular; it is seeing the entire sky that brings the magic into perspective.

I’m also sitting here thinking about how humans named constellations because they picked out a cohesive image or design from an otherwise random cluster of stars. We took groups of things with seemingly no particular correlation and deemed them united and awe-inspiring: the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion’s Belt. Doesn’t life often happen this way too? Our path toward progress looks less like the forward trajectory of an arrow and more like a splatter of stars strewn with no rhyme or reason across the sky. Taken piece by piece, it doesn’t make sense. Only when you step back and view the thing in its entirety does it create a continuing story.

What I’m working to remind myself is this: there is peace in mulling over the unfinished puzzle wondering if it will ever come together or not. There is also value in saying, “This is scary and uncomfortable and exhausting.” But it’s important not to get too hung up on the individual pieces without being able to see the bigger picture. It’s there, and it’s coming, and if it’s anything like what I know of the stars, I can certainly hope that it’s worth these little moments of chaos.