As we gather together with family and friends, let’s all remember to focus on and be thankful for the blessings we have, large and small. In a world and a country experiencing multitudes of problems, it is easy to be overwhelmed by sadness and need. While counting our blessings, I hope to also remember those who are less fortunate, those who are away from their families, those who are suffering from varied ailments, those who find little joy in the world. As the holiday season begins, there are many ways in our hearts, hands and minds to share with others our gifts. Because someone needs them and they are only as valuable as the love behind them.
This past weekend the University of Notre Dame’s football team traveled to Baltimore to play the United States Naval Academy.
ND vs. Navy
Both schools play an important role in our family. My husband and I attended the University of Notre Dame. Certainly my time as a swimmer at Notre Dame was life-changing and life-defining. Our children help cheer on the Irish each Saturday during the Fall. We have been known to travel to Philadelphia or Washington to watch Notre Dame’s basketball teams or the volleyball team. Notre Dame is a daily part of our lives. And the sense of community I felt while I was there, and I still feel now continues to be a gift in my life.
The lessons I learned at Notre Dame carry on in my day-to-day life. That includes being a sponsor family at the Naval Academy. Most weekends during the school year you’ll find Midshipmen at our house - eating, sleeping, relaxing and taking a break from their life on The Yard. We’ve been blessed over the past five years to play a small role in helping these exceptional young men succeed in college and in life. Our children have been blessed to witness these Midshipmen as role models.
This past weekend we celebrated our affiliation with both Institutions. What we learned as students at one school, benefits the students at another school. In many ways, Notre Dame and Navy are similar in values and in the young people who are graduated from the schools. Our hearts beat blue and gold - and we cheer for Navy 364 days of the year.
This past weekend I spent five days in Arizona to celebrate many events. Certainly it is a celebration when our family gets together. My sons love little more than spending time with their cousins.
My husband and I also celebrated at a friend’s wedding. With our own anniversary coming up next week, we had the opportunity to celebrate our own marriage and the life we have created together.
Family and friends: they are two of the important communities in our lives.
But I also had the privilege to speak to a number of different groups while I was in Phoenix. Many of those who attended were a part of our lives at the time of my accident. They prayed for us, they sent letters, they lifted us when we needed their love and care. They were part of the reason I - and my family - were able to heal as well as we have, and I felt blessed to share with them the impact their goodness has had on our lives.
Tonight I speak to a new community in our lives: my sons’ school - and the Annapolis community at large. St. Anne’s has been a defining school for us. It has given such much to our family and again I feel privileged to contribute and give back to this community.
How blessed I am - within one week - to share and celebrate life’s challenges and joys with communities that cared for me as a child and a community that now cares for my own children.
Sound like a movie?
I am in Arizona this weekend with my family to attend a wedding. One of my former students-turned-friend is getting married tonight, and we are really looking forward to connecting with friends we do not get to see as often as we would like.
With a trip out west, I was also invited to speak to several different groups - and I am thrilled to do so.
Friday morning I was with a group of inspiring women, some who had read the book and some who had not. But most of whom had experienced tragedy in their own lives. As we all do - to varying degrees at varied times. Sometimes it touches your life at 18, age 8, or if we are lucky age 80. But it is a part of life that might not be welcomed, but during which we find goodness.
I was surrounded by goodness from the night of my accident and many of those people will attend one of my book events this weekend. I grew up in Phoenix and am blessed to have parents and long time family friends who still live here. How fortunate for me to be able to thank them; to share with them how their generous gestures and prayers impacted my life. Too often we forget to thank those who have made a difference in our lives.
This weekend I have much for which to be thankful. My family, my children, our friends and the blessings that have followed my life and allowed me to reach out to be a blessing in someone else’s life.
Can I be that goodness that surrounds someone? I hope so. We should all strive to be.