Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for September, 2012


It may come as a surprise to some of you who have met me – and even those of you who know me well – that I am very much an introvert. I like to keep to myself; I like to be by myself; and I am not entirely comfortable in social situations. I think this is one of the reasons my husband and I are so happily married: because he travels often for work, and when he’s around he does all the talking.

So it is interesting (to me) to observe how I have changed and grown through my outreach and decision to share my story. One of the greatest and most meaningful aspects of my ministry is meeting new people.

Take, for example, two nights ago: I drove 45 minutes to have dinner with three strangers. I had exchanged emails with two of my three dinner mates, but I had never met them before. With my husband out of town, I scheduled a babysitter so I could spend three hours with complete strangers. And boy am I glad I did!

The primary reason for the dinner was so I could meet a young man by the name of Thomas, and vice versa. Thomas has a similar story to mine: the sport is different (he’s a hockey player), our ages are different (he’s in his early 20s), and the location of our injuries are different, but those are the tangibles. The emotions and determination and desire to pass along the goodness are all so similar. Even the way we dealt with our setbacks (and his was far worse than mine: my spine may have re-collapsed, but he actually REINJURED himself in a second accident – Craziness!)

What an amazing young man. I could have spent all night talking to him (our diagnosis, overcoming the odds, being told we never walk or play our sport, our diminished proprioception!) and I look forward to our continued dialogue and friendship. But what I was most impressed with was his insight and maturity at such a young age. Yes, I was once 24 and living with my injuries; but I am pretty sure I did not do it with such maturity and wisdom. It is true that both of us grew up too fast, but he carries the wisdom of experience that I am pretty sure took me many more years to acquire.

What a gift to me, to share the evening with Thomas, a stranger before Wednesday, but now a friend. These are the blessings I continue to receive: the joy of meeting inspiring people. Keep it up, Thomas. Keep it up. I look forward to working with you!

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    If you know me, you know I like to write thank you notes. I send thank you emails as well, but I will follow up with a handwritten thank you note. I get this from my mother.

    When I was younger, my mom would purchase note cards and stationary for my friends for their birthdays. This was highly embarrassing and annoying, because I didn’t like showing up at a friend’s birthday party knowing that I was bring them a wrapped box of stationary. I laughed at myself last week as I purchased a box of stationary for my son’s friend’s birthday (it’s a girl – and the front of the note cards reminded me of her, but I know my son will roll his eyes at my idea of a gift). Thankfully the mother of this girl understands and appreciates the art of hand written thank you notes as well.

    Aside from all this, yesterday I received in the mail a thank you note from a mother and daughter who attended a talk I gave last weekend. I had the privilege of speaking to a group of about 300 mothers and their teenage daughters (how great is that!) Their group, National Charity League, is dedicated to community service, making a difference, and the bonds of family; again, a great audience for my story. Add to that a group that values a hand written thank you note, and I am right at home.

    Interestingly enough, I never expect a thank you note after a talk. I appreciate feedback and I enjoy speaking with members of the audience to hear what they took away and what thoughts resonated with them, but I do not expect an actual written note. Why is this? Because selfless giving of oneself does not require acknowledgement. I speak to share, not to be thanked.

    I feel strongly about writing thank you notes, not receiving them. And clearly I feel strongly that we do not lose this art form. Gratitude should never go out of style.

    Thank you to the Phoenix Chapter of the National Charity League for inviting me to speak and for teaching our next generation of women the value of service, gratitude and writing thank you notes!

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    I wrote this last year, but it’s worth a re-post, dedicated to the heroes of that day, those with us and those not:

    Where were you when the world changed?
    When so many lives were rearranged
    When ashes drifted with silent stares
    And heroes emerged above rubble in layers
    When phones stayed silent and the call did not come
    When the images replayed, left the country numb
    Where were you when the towers fell?
    When so many lives became a living hell
    When anger united us strong in our pride
    When tears and emotions we could no longer hide
    When a newborn baby gave hope to our grief
    And hugs from our children provided relief
    Where were you on that fateful day?
    When so many knelt to solemnly pray
    When strangers embraced without guilt or shame
    And no one retreated from saying God’s name
    When the American flag from our homes did sway
    Forever in our hearts: God Bless the U.S.A.

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    One will often hear me say, “I am a Navy fan 364 days a year; and on the 365th day, I root for the Blue & Gold.” In fact, a Naval Officer who works at Notre Dame mentioned to me that he borrows this line. Meaning, this past Saturday, we were both cheering for the Blue & Gold.

    My husband and I just returned from Ireland. We were lucky enough to travel abroad (thanks to the build-up of airline miles he accumulates from frequent business travel) and to spend four days with 35,000 other Americans in the small city of Dublin. Blue & Gold and green were everywhere. It never occurred to me to pack – or wear – green (even though my husband and the rest of our group did), and even though we were in Ireland and the entire stadium was green. This made me laugh…I was so focused on cheering for the Blue & Gold; I clearly needed to cheer for the Blue & Gold & Green. Even mass on Game Day at Dublin Castle (very cool!) it was a sea of green.

    The Navy vs. Notre Dame football game is one of my favorite games of the year: two institutions with great mutual respect, great history, great tradition and most importantly a great understanding of life beyond football. Yes, the teams were there to win. But they were also there to represent their Universities and their country, as they will continue to do long after graduation (and yes, our players do graduate!)

    Former Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz was known to say that attending Notre Dame is not a four-year commitment, but a 40-year commitment (hopefully longer, since I’d like to think we live past our 60s). The same can be said for the Naval Academy. These are not just academic institutions where we spend four years at college; these are life-long affiliations that stem from the four years that define who we are… and for our athletes, much of this character development comes on the playing field (or court or pool or track).

    Go Irish! Go Navy!

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