Conquering Fear, Notre Dame Football Recap

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

A week ago, Eleanor’s thoughts never crossed my mind. I was too busy fretting — worrying whether there would be heavy traffic on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, worrying if My Favorite Domer would have time between all his Band and class activities to pick up the “winter woolies” I was bringing him, worrying where I could park my car during the football game, worrying whether I could find my seat in such a big stadium, worrying if I could stand being in a crowd of thousands, worrying whether I’d brought the right clothes. . . .

Worry, they say, is like a rocking chair — gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.

Logically I knew that. Knew I was a mess. Knew I wasn’t trusting my own good instincts.

Emotionally I didn’t care.

I was hanging onto my worries and my fears, doggone it, and don’t even try to convince me otherwise!

How silly.

I left early Friday morning, beating most of the other travelers to my destination. MFD and I hauled coats, jeans, hoodies, etc. to his dorm between classes. And I got to enjoy some of his Band practices.

Piece of cake.

That gave me courage to tackle Saturday.

Again, I left the hotel early and found just the right parking spot. Skies were partly cloudy, temps were cool but I had a jacket.

I toured campus. Took lots of photos. Talked to other visitors and parents. Found an usher in the Stadium to direct me to my seat. Got to yell and scream and jump to my feet without feeling like a weirdo. And enjoyed a candlelight birthday dinner with MFD after the game.

It couldn’t have been more perfect!

As Notre Dame takes to the field this afternoon for their match-up against Michigan, I’ll be there in spirit. One of legions of fans bound together by tradition, loyalty, and love.

You’ll recognize me — I’ll be the one with misty eyes when I hear the beloved songs again, the one on my feet yelling (at the TV set) with the other fans, the one wishing I could be there in person, the one confident I will be for future games.


Feelings surrounding my Notre Dame Weekend

Feelings are part of our senses, too, so I’ll try to compress all the emotions that washed over me during this past football weekend at Notre Dame.

  • Awe. Notre Dame, first and foremost, is a Catholic institution of higher learning. While they are immensely proud of that, they do more than just tolerate other faiths — they embrace them. Yes, there are chapels in every dorm; yes, there are crucifixes in classrooms; and yes, there’s a 19-foot tall golden statue of Mary atop the Main Building. But nobody is forced to become Catholic; indeed, there’s a plethora of religious organizations on campus for a wide variety of faiths. That they all co-exist so serenely is inspiring (maybe the entire world should take note!).
  • Peace. Notre Dame’s campus is chock-full of places where one can contemplate. The sheer number of unusual-looking trees overshadowing wooden benches makes for a hallowed feeling. The 14-story Hesburgh Library offers plenty of places to read and stretch one’s mind. And the Grotto with its kneeling rail and vigil candles provides a spot where even the most troubled spirit can find calm.
  • Jealousy. I might sound like an old geezer here, but I’ve got to admit to a teeny bit of jealousy — at these kids’ youth, their brightness, their exuberance, the possibility that some of them will cure diseases or save lives or make the world a better place — and they’ve got time on their hands to do so.
  • Anticipation. You know that heart-racing excitement you get when something wonderful is about to happen, and it can’t happen fast enough for you? That’s it! This was my first time to hear what a 400-plus member Band sounds like, to be part of 81,000 screaming fans packed shoulder to shoulder in an open-air football stadium, to re-visit some of the spots on campus  I’d only glanced at on earlier (and busier!) trips, to see (in person, no TV commercial breaks!) a college football game again.
  • Self-satisfaction. Hey, I faced my fears, stepped out of my comfort zone, whatever you want to call it — and was rewarded with the adventure (and memory) of a lifetime! It doesn’t get much better than that!
  • Pride. Watching My Favorite Domer in his habitat, smiling at the ease with which he greets fellow students, realizing how seriously he takes his obligation of being in the Band and his studies, knowing this great university is the right place for him — well, I can’t help feeling proud. What a difference a few years make — as his mom, I still remember the brave little boy walking into preschool without looking back!

I’ll wrap up my journey down Memory Lane tomorrow — though this won’t be the last of my blogging. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my adventure!