Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Notre Dame Swim Team bus accident (referred to as simply, “the accident”), I am hoping to share 25 Things I Have Learned In 25 Years. 

Last night I attended a Christmas program at my youngest son’s school. He’s in 8th grade, so after 13 years at St. Anne’s School of Annapolis, this was my last Christmas program as a parent. There are many wonderful traditions to share about the evening, but what I noted most were my seats. Sitting next to me were two other moms who have walked this parenting journey with me for 13 years. Walking out of the concert, I received a hug from a dad who often drives my son to school; I hugged a child I’ve known since he was one-year-old and wished him Merry Christmas; I saw teachers who taught my boys over the past decade and was reminded of the love and care they have given our family.

I looked at our school community, and I saw my family.

Even though Jamie was in NYC, James stayed home to study for mid-terms, and my parents are in Arizona; tonight, I shared the evening with my St. Anne’s family. These are moms, women, that I love. They have hugged me when I cried; they have cared for and loved my children when I couldn’t; they have driven me to the ER (see the post below); and they have made me a better mom, a better friend, and a better professional.

I often talk about “the family we are born to, and the family we create.” Tonight was a celebration of the family we have created here in Annapolis.

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    In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Notre Dame Swim Team bus accident (referred to as simply, “the accident”), I am hoping to share 25 Things I Have Learned In 25 Years. 

    I need to take care of myself. I think this comes more with age; however, there are times when I need to remember that my body isn’t like everyone else’s and that I really need to take better care of myself.

    When we are younger, we can “power through,” we think we can do anything, and we tend to ignore a lingering cough. As we age, this becomes harder and harder to do, or we’ll end up in the hospital. (And I’m not that old, so it will become even more important to listen to my body as I continue to age).

    Last year, I continued to “power through” and ignore some health signs that “weren’t that bad,” and I ended up in the emergency room with a kidney infection. Thank goodness for friends who came in the middle of the night to drive me and to stay with my kids so they didn’t wake up with no parent in the house. I needed to take better care of myself; instead, I was out of commission for about two months.

    I was reminded of this this morning while driving home from dropping my son off at the bus stop. I am tired, as most moms are in December, and I suddenly remembered that my nephew arrived home last night after his first semester at the United States Air Force Academy. I got teary (see I AM EMOTIONAL) thinking of his reunion with his parents. And then I reminded myself that I get more emotional when I am tired; AND that I am more inclined to get sick when I am tired.

    My train of thought drew me back to a few Christmases ago; I was really sick. I was run down and tired (again, I was a mom in December), and I remember a conversation my husband – very lovingly – had with me when I felt better. He said: You can’t do this. I don’t want our kids to grow up with their memories of mom being sick every Christmas. 

    That was the third year in a row that I had been sick on Christmas. I needed to take better care of myself. And I have.

    I am tired, but I also know there are things I won’t push myself to do. The cookies might not all get made. The presents might not have bows. The teachers won’t have homemade gifts, unless someone else makes them (which she did – thanks Lisa!) And my house might be a mess. But I will be happy on Christmas Day (and happier during the season of Advent) having learned to take better care of myself.

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    In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Notre Dame Swim Team bus accident (referred to as simply, “the accident”), I am hoping to share 25 Things I Have Learned In 25 Years. 

    I am emotional. I would not have told you this about myself when I was younger. And perhaps I wasn’t emotional when I was a teenager (and before). But I have learned – over the past 25 years – that I am an emotional person. At least when it comes to certain things.

    Injuries, illness, and tragedy are a few of those “certain things.”

    Not in a way that feels inauthentic, or as though I am hanging-on to a tragic event to be involved. We all know people like that: they dive in and thrive on tragedy, wanting to swoop in and very publicly help out. While that’s not my preference, those people play a valuable and necessary role.

    No, my emotions come from an understanding of what it’s like to experience tragedy; to be injured; to have your life change in a way that is horrible – yet at times beautiful. My emotions are both physical and mental reactions that I can’t control.

    Last night, a Pittsburgh Steeler suffered a spinal injury. I watched it, and re-watched it. And it was awful. It IS awful. While many people prayed for him last night, and checked online to see how he was doing this morning; most Americans’ active interest will fade as the week continues. But not mine. Once you have experienced tragedy – especially a tragedy so similar in nature – it never goes away. And with one hit of a defensive player, it returns, even after 25 years. The emotions of the hospital, a spinal injury, the end of an athletic career, and an uncertain future, all flood back in an instant.

    I become emotional. Not for myself, but for the other person, for their family, for everyone whose lives will be altered by that hit. Ryan Shazier’s injury tugged at most people’s emotions; as it will for a long time for those of us who live with a spinal injury.


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    In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Notre Dame Swim Team bus accident (referred to as simply, “the accident”), I am hoping to share 25 Things I Have Learned In 25 Years. 

    I am hard on myself. I am hard on others as well, but mostly it is a reflection of the perfection I expect from myself.

    My sister turned 40 last week while we were in Florida for Thanksgiving. As usual when we are together, we laughed and told funny stories about things we have done. One of those stories included a watercolor class we took on vacation.

    My sister is extremely talented. She is creative. She has an eye for art, painting, photography and style. She may not see it; but for someone who doesn’t have those things, I see her talents clearly. During our watercolor class, she painted a beautiful scene. I painted a flower with ridged lines and defined objects…not the point of painting with watercolors. But, as a perfectionist, I couldn’t even have something that was supposed to be blurry, blur together. It’s just not in my ability. And yet, I was disappointed in myself for not being able to paint with watercolors.

    I see this same trait in my son. He too is a perfectionist, and he too is hard on himself when he falls short of perfection. It can be a tough way to go through life, because no one is perfect. So expecting perfection means we’ll always fall short in our minds. I’m trying to help him see this, and it has given me some perspective as well.

    Perfection shouldn’t be the goal, we should only expect perfection in our efforts.


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    Today is the first Sunday in Advent. When I logged on to begin this post, I realized I had not written in a while; too long, one of the longest stretches without a post. And I sighed, feeling slightly disappointed in myself. What have I been doing? I knew the Fall would be busy; it always is. But I tend to find “I’m too busy” to be an untruthful excuse. Many of us are busy; so if something doesn’t get done, it’s perhaps not a priority.

    I was also reminded of my January resolution to write about 25 things I have learned in 25 years. Well, that hasn’t happened either. It’s not that I didn’t learn and it’s not that I didn’t think about writing, but my fingers never made it to the keys.

    So here I am, the First Sunday in Advent, looking back on my shortfalls from the year, and looking ahead with anticipation to a renewing of my faith and the birth of Christ.

    Advent is a time of Hope, Love, Joy and Gifts. And I hope to share those with you over the next four Sundays.

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    It’s been two weeks since we finished the Notre Dame Trail. Since then, both my boys have started school, we’ve watched two ND football games, I have traveled to South Bend (and home) for Monogram Club meetings, my husband has traveled to Barcelona (and NYC) and back, and we went away with friends over Labor Day weekend to celebrate the end of summer. Oh, and I’ve done about 27 loads of laundry.

    In other words, just a regular two weeks in the life of the DeMaria family.

    And yet, life doesn’t seem as regular as it did before the Trail. I’ve had many, many people ask me, “How was it?” And my answer is always the same: It was awesome.

    There were 32 of us who travelled the entire ND Trail; all 320 miles. The 32 core pilgrims have a group chat: GroupMe, an app where we communicate daily; often hourly. For 32 strangers who became family over two weeks, it was a stark contrast to no longer talk to each other after 14 days of constant conversation. So the group chat has helped us re-enter regular life, while holding on to what we can of the Trail.

    In one group message, a pilgrim said that he always answers, “Awesome,” when asked how the Trail was, because – as he said – “how can you explain two life changing weeks in less than two hours?” I smiled and laughed when I read this. Because this is my answer too. It was awesome.

    And it’s hard to describe and explain to others what it was like. But what I do know is that I feel a calm that I didn’t before. With the laundry and work and travel and stressful football games, I am a little more peaceful with a little different perspective.

    This is what I call the Blessings of the ND Trail; those moments when you feel differently and can’t exactly explain why. When you know you are a bit changed, but you can’t always articulate it. I just know it was awesome.

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  • ND TRAIL, Day 14: HOPE

    HOPE. What a great way to end the ND Trail.

    When we crossed the St. Joe River on Friday, our 2nd to last day, and entered South Bend, it was a powerful feeling to know we had arrived. We were in South Bend. We weren’t quite at Notre Dame, but we were almost home. We celebrated the end of 18 miles that day, and 317 total, with hugs and tears and “we made it!” and “congratulations!” because we had completed almost all of the Trail. It was an emotional afternoon.

    The last day, and the last three miles, of the Trail were a celebration. A celebration of Notre Dame, a celebration of the pilgrims (the 32 of us, and all those who joined throughout the journey), and a celebration of Father Sorin’s legacy and challenge to be “a means for doing good.” We paused and prayed at Fr. Sorin’s grave, we prayed again at the Grotto and the Log Chapel, and again as a community at Mass. Then we celebrated 175 years of Notre Dame with the students and community on South Quad.

    But while Notre Dame is steeped in history and traditions, the University is always looking forward. Our Lady seeks to honor our history and traditions by continuing to be a means for doing good in the future. In another word: HOPE.

    I take all I loved and learned on the Trail and look with HOPE to the future.



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  • ND TRAIL, Day 13: HEART

    “Educate the mind, but never at the expense of the heart.” – Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross

    I am home now after two weeks on the Notre Dame Trail. I tried to write each night, to reflect on the theme of the day and to record a journey that really can’t fully be expressed in words. But on the last two days of the Trail, I spent each waking moment (literally) trying to absorb every moment I could with my fellow pilgrims. As we returned to South Bend, I knew our time together was limited. Two weeks. 320 miles. 32 pilgrims. Countless stories. Hours of conversation. And miles and miles of love.

    I learned so much on my pilgrimage: about myself, about my faith, about the founding of Notre Dame, about the history of Indiana, and about the Congregation of Holy Cross. I learned so much, I don’t even know all I have learned. It will take several weeks, maybe longer, to fully process how this pilgrimage has changed me.

    I do notice some differences. I am more peaceful. (Maybe I am still tired.) I am more patient with my son who didn’t finish his summer work until the night before school started this week. I am more forgiving of those who used to annoy me quickly. I feel as though I am living in a state of grace, a renewed sense of spirit and a challenge to be – as Father Sorin declared – a powerful means for doing good.

    “Doing good” means leading with your heart. Blessed Basil Moreau’s quote speaks to me because it reminds us to lead with our heart. Educate our minds, use our talents, be bold in our actions – but never at the expense of our heart. We are who we are because of the actions in our heart.

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  • ND TRAIL, Day 12: FAMILY

    Today’s theme of FAMILY should be an easy one. Thank goodness, because it‘s almost 11pm and my alarm is set for 4:45am, with 17.9 miles on the agenda for tomorrow. I’ll just round that up to 18 miles…

    FAMILY has always meant two things to me: the family you are born to, and the family that surrounds you.

    I have an awesome family, with awesome parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We are a little intense at times, a little off-the-wall a lot of the time, but always, always filled with love. Throw in my husband, children and in-laws, and my family is complete. I have no doubt, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, we will overcome any challenge.

    The family that surrounds me is just as important, sometimes just as off-the-wall, and definitely filled with love.

    These families take many forms: my Notre Dame family, my St. Anne’s family, my tribe of moms-who-keep-me-sane family, my Xavier family when I was there and my swimming family, and now my pilgrim family.

    12 days ago, I met the 31 other pilgrims who would become the core group on the ND Trail. We are a diverse group: in age, in reasons for walking, in relationship to the University; we are also at different places on our spiritual journey and hail from different parts of the country. Some of us are sore, most of us have blisters, all of us are tired; but the one thing we have in common – without exception – is our gratitude for being on the Trail.

    One core pilgrim asked me today if I had 2nd thoughts about having done the Trail. “No way,” came out of my mouth pretty quickly. We then asked a few others and were met with the same exact response.

    We have learned along the way that friends and family think we are crazy for doing this; and perhaps we are. But it has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. And while I miss my family at home, I am at home with my new family.

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  • ND TRAIL, Day 11: ZEAL

    Today’s theme was ZEAL. Zeal is not a word that passed through my vocabulary, or thoughts, very often until last year. When my son started high school at a Xaverian Brothers sponsored school, Mount Saint Joseph in Baltimore, I learned their five spiritual values: humility, trust, simplicity, compassion and zeal. These values are mentioned often and lived out daily at Mount St. Joe. The first four I was familiar with; but zeal was a new value to explore.

    The last five themes of the ND Trail are the five values of the Congregation of Holy Cross: mind, zeal, family, heart and hope. I am ashamed to admit that I did not know the values of the CSC; but I am glad to know them now, and I am glad Mount St. Joe is so proud and forthright about sharing and teaching their values. In fact, they live and teach their values with zeal.

    Fr. Malloy, Notre Dame’s 16th president, celebrated mass tonight and shared Blessed Basil Moreau’s definition of zeal as “a flame in your heart.” I like that.

    Being new to the term myself, I imagine zeal as the enthusiasm the core pilgrims have as we climb on the oxcart each morning, usually before the sun is up, and greet each other with passion and smiles, encouragement and excitement for the day. I have a flame in my heart for the ND Trail and for my fellow pilgrims.

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