I had the joy of spending the last few weeks in the great states of Mississippi and Alabama. Now, I had only driven through these two states until now, so I was excited to actually get to spend some time there. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and the University of Alabama all have different flavors, but the Chi Omega women at all three schools exhibited the most welcoming love to me that I could have asked for.
Oxford and Starkville are both cute little towns with a lot of character. Now, they may not have a Target, but don’t let that discourage you from checking them out. The Oxford Square has so many amazing restaurants and boutiques. Be sure to check out Square Books, a multiple-storied book store with a coffee bar on the third floor – perfect for a rainy day read. And the best part? They don’t have wi-fi #unplug.
Fun fact: Starkville, Mississippi is home to where most of those amazing candles you find at Anthropologie originated! Who knew! Aspen Bay crafts and creates alluring scents with beautiful designs to fill any home with love. That literally sounded like an ad, and I apologize for that. But truly, the BEST candles!!
Tuscaloosa is a larger town than the other two that I visited, and yes, it does have a Target. Most importantly, I think Tuscaloosa has some of the BEST food I’ve had on the road. I mean give me that flank steak served over a bed of sweet potato fries at River ANY day. AND there’s an acai bowl place. Can it get better?
These visits indeed did get better…because of the P E O P L E. I don’t think I have belly-laughed so much on visits before than with these girls. I mean whether it was me ringing my cow bell incorrectly at Mississippi State or finding out we had mutual friends we never knew about, there was always some reason I was smiling.
Also, can we take a moment and recognize how these women go above and beyond to make us visitors feel so loved in their homes? Banners and treats and gifts are just the cherry on top to how welcoming and loving these women are. And it’s all so amazingly genuine. Our Chi Omega women have big hearts and they long to give back and show love to those around them. That could include me, the community, a fraternity, or even their Make-A-Wish efforts, I got to witness these women go past the norm to love BIG.
Also, banners, these girls CRUSHED these banners.
Since, unfortunately, my man and I were not able to share Valentine’s together, I had the pleasure of spending my special night with a very special woman. One of our former National Presidents, Mary Ann Fruge, lives in Oxford, and she and her husband treated me to a Valentine’s day dinner. This couple knows everyone in Oxford, and they have both done so much for their respective communities. They have left remarkable legacies on the lives they’ve touched, and it was truly inspirational to spend an evening with them.
So, you want my Valentine’s Day relationship-advice wisdom from these two? To support the other in all they do and encourage them to pursue their dreams, even when that requires sacrifice.
Sometimes, God can put forever-people in your life in an instant, without you even expecting it. That’s one of the biggest ways he uses Chi Omega in my life – for the forever friends. I swear I met my soul sista at Alabama (shout out, Ming), and the women from all three of these schools will be my friends for a long time. My new home town of Memphis provided some great opportunity for me to ask for ALL the opinions on where I should eat and shop from those members who have lived there their whole lives. I spent time with a new consultant who is joining this amazing team next year (Kendall, you will be so great!). And I got to befriend the three most generous, loving house moms you will ever meet. They are vivacious, full of life, and love and care for the women of their houses so well.
Another thing I love about Chi Omega is that no matter who you are, you are treasured here, and your voice matters. During my time at Alabama, our National President, Shelley Potter, was also there for a campus-wide meeting. Seeing how she interacts with our chapter members and advisors makes me so proud to be a part of this organization. She is truly inspiring and a role model to all Chi Omega women. She is humble, poised, generous, compassionate, and cares about each and every member’s experience and input. I strive to make people feel as valued as she does in all I do.
I feel so blessed by the people God puts in my life while I am on the road and the instant connections I make. I truly believe there is a bigger purpose behind every day of our lives and that Chi Omega gives me a different purpose on every visit I take. To the women of Chi Omega at Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama, THANK YOU for making me feel at home, loved, and welcomed from the moment I arrived. Thank you for showing me how a smile and a hug goes a long way. Thank you for showing me how contagious excitement and passion is. And thank you for becoming a beautiful part of this journey I’m on. You’ve given me more than you know.