Memories

10 Reasons Dayton Deserves This Day

My alma mater—the University of Dayton—is in the Sweet Sixteen tonight, in case you haven’t heard. I may not be a huge basketball fan, but I am a UD fan, so I’m just as excited. The Flyers deserve to be in the national spotlight. There are lots of list out there about who we are and why we should win, but I wanted to offer my own. Here are ten more reasons from an alum perspective. (Hint: it’s much more than the Ghetto on Saturday night!)

  1. Marianists are among the greatest people you’ll ever meet.

UD is a Catholic, Marianist school with a real commitment to community and kindness. Our campus is full of priests, brothers, and sisters who embody that commitment every minute of every day. It’s intensely wonderful.

  1. The city of Dayton loves the University of Dayton.

Since the school housed hundreds and fed thousands of city residents stranded by the flood of 1913, UD has made every effort to help improve the city and have a positive impact on the community. They purchase and improve vacant buildings, support the city’s natural resources, and create jobs.

  1. Christmas on Campus is a beautiful thing.

Each year on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, classes are cancelled and campus is abuzz for Christmas on Campus. It’s a chance for students to celebrate Christmas together before they go home for break—and do some great work for the community. Dayton-area kids come to campus to be hosted by students, given Christmas gifts, and treated like little royalty. It’s a ball.

  1. Academics are a top priority.

Let’s face it: college, at its heart, is about a good education that will launch careers, not bouncing a ball around. UD’s athletes are held to high academic standards, and boast a national top 20 standing for graduation success rates.

  1. Service is a core part of the university mission.

Whether it’s a spring break service trip to build houses in a low-income neighborhood, a summer trip to set up clean water for remote African villages or volunteer in Appalachia, or a weekend spent working in the inner city, UD is all about service in action and immersive education that will broaden students’ worldview.

  1. UD’s financial aid program is generous and (relatively) easy.

Applying for financial aid from the university is as easy as applying for admission—it’s the same application. Based on academic credentials, students learn what scholarships they qualify for as soon as they know they’ve been admitted. There are many other opportunities for aid, too. Though it’s a private school, it’s among the most affordable in the country.

  1. You can’t beat a Ghetto porch.

The Ghetto—otherwise known as the student neighborhood at the University of Dayton—is filled with old, janky houses with perfect porches. The first thing students do when the weather warms up in the spring is sit on a porch and wave to their neighbors. It’s a friendly, open-door neighborhood full of that community vibe Flyers just can’t get enough of.

  1. The whole world needs the Marian Library.

UD is home to the largest collection of printed materials about the mother of God on the planet. The Marian Library is filled with priceless works of scholarship and devotion to Mary and her place in salvation history. Its executive director—Fr. Francois Rossier—speaks five languages, has taught on every continent, and was installed by the Vatican. It’s that big a deal.

  1. UDRI is a research powerhouse.

The University of Dayton Research Institute makes great strides in energy, environment, aerospace, sustainability, sensors, materials, and many more fields. They’ve made a difference in the world, and they do it again and again—all with the help of brilliant professionals and hundreds of dedicated students.

  1. Everyone finds something to love at UD.

Truly embodying the Catholic call to welcome, love, and serve our neighbors, UD brings people together. Whether it’s an annual writers’ workshop, a conference for business geniuses (and students who want to be them), a sandwich and a smoothie at the campus hub for artsy kids, Sunday Mass at the historic chapel, or a good basketball game, there’s at least one something for everyone.

Go Flyers!

Stay humble, be merciful, and keep family first.

The other day my husband told me that we’re “at that stage in our lives where every decision we make is the biggest decision we’ve ever made.” In our early/mid-twenties, newly married, with a home, changing families and friends, and fresh careers, he’s definitely right.

At the moment, we’re in a pretty stable place. But that could change quickly because, as young adults, we just never know what might come up. He’s waiting for the next step in his career to become available, and I’m settling into new and changing opportunities in my job. We’re trying to maintain friendships that are evolving as our lives are diverted, maintain close family ties while our traditions must change, prepare for the fact that our own little bundles are probably on the not-too-distant horizon, and doing what we can to start our married life the right way.

It still takes just a little perspective to make prioritize everything as they deserve to be.

My grandfather-in-law suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s for almost a decade. His wife met his every need unfailingly. When he lost the ability to hold a conversation, she never stopped telling him how much she loved him. When he lost the ability to speak at all, she spoke for him. When he couldn’t care for himself anymore, she barely blinked. She became not just his wife, but his nurse, his caregiver, and his lifeline. And she didn’t once complain.

Recently, his health took a serious turn for the worse. Bedridden, unable to eat, drink, or move, he was surrounded by his family within days. All three of their children—from opposite corners of the country—rushed to his side. My grandmother-in-law held his hand and kept him comfortable and told him stories.

He’d been suffering a long time. We all knew he was ready to go Home. And though the last five years, at least, had been far more work than she’d ever expected in her marriage, his wife still wept to see him on his way out. She still ached to keep him with her longer—to stay at his bedside.

As she told him stories, she laughed about the hard times they’d had as a young couple. She joked about the time she fled to her mother’s after an argument, convinced she couldn’t forgive him. The rest of us thought that sounded pretty serious, but she couldn’t even remember what the fight had been about. She giggled over the antics that had once driven her crazy. And in the quiet moments, when the somber mood overtook her, she explained how she could barely remember the bad times.

“They just don’t matter,” she said. “All I know now is how good it was.”

Half asleep and painfully exhausted, she alternated between staying by his side and fluttering around the house caring for her children and grandchildren. She rarely stopped smiling. And though you could see the hurt in her teary eyes, she told him it was okay to sleep. To rest. To go to Him. He did and, though she misses him dearly, she’s doing her very best to cope and know that he’s in a better place, waiting for her.

That’s what marriage is about: sharing the burden of strength in life’s darkest moments. Knowing your place as a servant to your spouse—no more and no less.

So, in the long run, career adjustments don’t mean much, do they? Neither do day-to-day arguments, annoying routines, or undone chores. We shouldn’t make them bigger than they are. We can only make the choices that are best for our family. There are bigger things in this life and the next. Stay humble, be merciful, and keep your family first. That’s all any of us can do.

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Favorite (and not-so-favorite) Deets of Getting Wedding-Ready

My husband and I dated for exactly eight years before we said “I do.” We attended the same preschool, grade school, middle school, and high school, and started dating at freshman homecoming. We attended different colleges, but stayed steadfastly together. After graduation, Erik got a job almost immediately. I found one a few months later.

The same week I started my career, he proposed. He took me fishing at a small pond near my dad’s house—a favorite pastime of ours. The weather wasn’t ideal, and the fish weren’t biting. He convinced me I needed to change my lure, so he switched it for me.

When he turned around and dangled the line in front of me, all I could see was something sparkly. For several seconds, I had no clue what I was looking at. And then he was on one knee, and I saw it:

Engagement Ring

By then, we were thrilled to finally take the leap. Both of us felt entirely committed to the other, and we ached to make it whole. We didn’t feel a hint of fear; nothing about marriage gave us anything but joy.

We set a date for seven months later. The timeframe was tight, but we couldn’t wait another year for the fall wedding we’d always wanted. So that was that.

Honestly, I think there’s very little is fun in the logistics of planning any kind of large event—even if it’s a wedding. I don’t know if I would’ve said that before I did it, but there’s no arguing with me now.

We had a fairly conservative budget (by the modern wedding’s unreal standards), and we wanted to make the most of it—which, ultimately, meant we had to do almost everything ourselves.

I am not an organized person. Some brides-to-be have three-ring binders with labels and color-coded paper ordered by chronological relevance. Not me. I had a poorly sorted inbox and a few handwritten notes floating between my desk at work, my purse, and my bedroom. Yikes.

I didn’t mean to be that way. At the beginning, I tried. I got a wedding planning app for my phone, which told me when and how to do what. I scrolled through the to-do lists. For a little while, I updated it: I added the info for our church, our priest, our date, and the wedding colors. The basics.

Then I got freaked out looking at that long to-do list every day, and I stopped. I told myself I didn’t need it and, naively, I believed it.

Turns out it’s harder than you think.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but here’s a list of simple tips for the bride-to-be. They’re broken down into highlights and struggles.

Highlights

  • Picking the little details. Flowers, the wedding party’s attire, and the little decorative details are so much of the fun. They make it your wedding.
  • Working with your husband-to-be. Don’t let him get lost in the shuffle—or avoid it. It should be fun to work with him. Like nothing else you’ve ever done, this is a project you two must accomplish together. Consider it practice for the years ahead.
  • Finding the dress that sings to you. Pick the one that makes you feel as beautiful as your fiancé knows you are. Bring the most important women in your life and share the moment, but don’t let them decide for you. And don’t bring your fiancé. There’s nothing like a first look at the altar on your wedding day. Cherish that. Protect it.
  • Bringing your dreams to life—humbly. Don’t settle, but find joy in what’s within reach. That means avoiding materialism. Ultimately, your wedding is about the way you begin your married life. “Things” don’t make that special. Focus on making this precious time with your new husband and your favorite people jubilant. Obsessing over the tangible will taint that, and it doesn’t set a good precedent for the shared life ahead.
  • Counting down the days. Each step in planning—even the annoying phone calls with vendors and the difficult conversations about who you can invite—brings you closer to your marriage. There’s no greater motivation. Hold onto it. Keep it in your sights.
  • Preparing for your marriage. A wedding is simply a stepping stone to something much bigger: a whole, permanent, and loving marriage. Catholic marriage isn’t just a new chapter—it’s sacramental. This “intimate community of life and love” is “a partnership of the whole of life,” and it’s not to be taken lightly (CCC 1602 & 1603). The Church helps you sit down with your fiancé and prepare, together, for the life you’ll share. If you complete that work with a genuine spirit, you’ll be thankful for it when the tough stuff arises later.

Struggles

  • Husbands and wives aren’t perfect. Neither are weddings. As soon as you accept that, you’ll be happier. The prep is stressful, but allow yourself to let go on the big day. The people who love you won’t care if your dress gets a little muddy after the photo shoot, or if you don’t have an open bar. Free yourself to enjoy and share the day.
  • Everyone has an opinion. Take your loved ones’ feedback to heart, and respect the wisdom of your elders. But don’t let their preferences cloud your judgment—or your wedding dress, menu, or guest list.
  • Ask for help. You can make the decisions that matter and not have to do everything by yourself. Erik and I handmade our invitations, favors, centerpieces—everything. It was fun, but it was hard work. At one point, I had to talk to vendors on the phone almost every day. We could’ve shared the load. Everyone offers to help. I should’ve been humble and patient enough to take it.
  • Weddings are beginnings, but they’re also endings. Life isn’t the same after you get married. Understand that that’s okay, because it should be profoundly different. But you can commit yourself to wedded bliss and stay accountable to your friends and family, too. You’re starting your own family unit; the healthiest ones lean on and lift up the same supporters they had before the wedding, as well as each other.
  • Butterflies. As I mentioned, my husband and I weren’t nervous about getting married. But minutes before I walked down the aisle, my stomach was all aflutter. Most of us aren’t used to being in the spotlight. Quick fix: above all, keep your focus on your soon-to-be husband. Everyone’s there to celebrate you, him, and the love and life you now share. Let their joy chase your butterflies away.

Plenty of things went awry on my wedding day. To name my favorites, we forgot to make programs for the Mass, and a few speedy family members had to rescue us during my dad’s toast because we didn’t have toasting flutes or champagne in front of us.

But you know what? I’ll always remember it as a perfect day—unequivocally the best of my life. And you will, too. So relax, prepare calmly, and, when the big day comes, don’t let a single minute pass unappreciated.