My friend Kathy, who also happens to be My Sister Mom from way-back in our sorority days, recently posted an article on Facebook about how many young women, particularly in the South, are hiring Rush Consultants to help them get into the house of their choice. It was an interesting read that raises thought-provoking questions about parenting choices and how women need coaching to navigate the social pressures of Rush, but that’s a whole other subject that I won’t get into here. Mostly, it caused me to harken back to the days when I decided to go through Rush, some 29 years ago. 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of my entry into The University of Michigan (aging myself!). I Loved the U the minute I entered campus but for some reason I couldn’t quite explain, I decided to rush my sophomore year. U-M is a large school and since I came from 12 years of Catholic School, I guess I was seeking a small group of close-knit friends. I went through rush and accepted a bid to Alpha Gamma Delta, a house we later came to call “The Island of Misfit Toys”. There was no “type” to an Alpha Gam girl at UM. We were a large house with many spaces to fill so we commonly joked that anyone had a place in our house who wanted one. During my years in the house, I behaved like the “anti” sorority girl, regularly bad-mouthing my house and speaking negatively of its rituals and traditions. But still, despite my bad behavior, I am grateful that I have a group of friends that loved me no matter what. What’s more is that they love me still and I am blessed because I still consider these girls some of my closest friends today. Remarkably, I now appreciate the beauty of the ritual that binds us as friends and I am proud to call myself an Alpha Gam. I question the choice of a squirrel as its mascot, but that’s another story.
This past summer, I was shopping at Plymouth Art in the Park (an annual Michigan Tradition) with two of my closest sisters. We were in a booth where we could piece together different pre-cut elements to create an original work. I glanced over at an older (than us) woman who was meticulously placing and re-placing her individual pieces to make her final work of art. I couldn’t help but notice that she was working in the red, buff and green of our house colors. I excitedly approached her and asked, “Why hello! Are you an Alpha Gam?” She explained that she was, in fact an Alpha Gam from Indiana University, an institution from which she graduated some 50 years ago. Every year, she meets with her sisters for a reunion and every year, she brings an AGD item to the woman who is hosting it.
I left the tent smiling. At this point, the idea for DIY THATARTGIRL Wooden Panels was in its infancy pre-planning stage. From the very beginning I knew that Greek Letters had to be an integral part of my offerings. Let’s not forget how much people love their houses, although that relationship may under go changes during different phases of life. I for one went years denying what my house means to me. Now I don’t know what I would do without my sisters. At any point in life, that love can be richly expressed, especially while lovingly painting our letters. I pictured their use in so many ways: whether its a team-building pre-rush activity, a gift from a Sister Mom to her kid at initiation, or even a relaxing activity for an annual reunion. These panels are a wonderful expression of the love we have for our house.