On Barb’s Bookshelf: Two for the “Go Irish” Crowd

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Image background: By Matthew RiceOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

It’s an amazing thing to get a sneak peek at two books with a connection to a place that’s precious in my memory: the University of Notre Dame.

When I arrived there in August of 1987, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., the legendary longtime president of the university, had recently retired. He was still very much a presence at Notre Dame, occupying an office on the 13th floor of the library named for him — and that was a popular floor for students to hang out in the hopes of seeing Fr. Ted or any of his famous acquaintances.

His fellow priest and university administrator Fr. Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., recently published a definitive biography of Hesburgh that acknowledges the former university president’s complicated history. American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh (Image Books) has an index that reads like a Who’s Who of Church and world leaders.

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Miscamble chronicles Hesburgh’s 35 years at the helm of Notre Dame without whitewashing errors in judgment and without prematurely canonizing his subject. Hesburgh presided over a nationally-renowned, if not world-renowned, university through times of social and political change, from 1952 through 1987. His influence, for good and for ill, has had far-reaching effects on Catholic higher education beyond the South Bend city limits. Miscamble’s book is more than a biography of one priest; it’s the story of a significant chapter in the life of a university.

Equally larger than life despite his small stature, celebrated football coach Lou Holtz led the team to an 8-4 season. That was the year I learned to like football. I’d never even watched a football game, but one of my roommates was a band assistant and my other roommates made sure I got to one game and provided a play-by-play. The students’ love for the coach was obvious from the repeated cry, “Lou! Lou! Lou!” — and this was the year before the Irish won the national championship.

Holtz, now retired from coaching sports, continues to coach through his motivational speaking, including graduation speeches. Three Rules for Living a Good Life: A Game Plan for after Graduation (Ave Maria Press) is an expanded edition of one such speech. The coach’s game plan is designed to help the reader achieve professional success, have a good personal life, feel needed, feel secure about the future, and go to heaven.

At only 76 small-format pages, this gift book is an easy read packed with homespun advice, truths Holtz admits he learned the hard way, and more than a few dad jokes.

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I’m not kidding about the dad jokes: I laughed at something on nearly every page. I’m also not kidding when I say that while this book is clearly aimed at new graduates, anyone (of any age) can benefit from reading it.

Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given free review copies of these books, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Out of Control

I’ve been driving everyone around me crazy lately. There’s a lot to worry about, and if there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s worrying.

god first family then notre dameFor my birthday, my folk-group friends generously gave me 3 tickets for the Notre Dame-Temple football game. That game’s happening this weekend. Middle Sister loves football a lot more than Hubs, so she’s appropriated his ticket.

As the game approaches, I’ve found more and more things to worry about.

  • It’s an 8:00 game. That’s PM. I have a hard time staying awake through an 8:00 game, and now I’ll have to drive home afterward.
  • We’re fans of the visiting team. In Philly, that can be difficult.
  • I’m going to have to navigate TheKid, and his string backpack full of diabetes supplies and snacks, past whatever inspection stations you have to get past in order to get into the Linc.
  • Middle Sister wants to take the subway and meet us at the game. But it’s at night, and the return trip to LaSalle (past Temple, with all the Temple fans who will either be super euphoric or super angry) wouldn’t be pretty for a fan of the other team. And a 19-year-old girl traveling on the subway alone at that time of night? NO.
  • The game’s on Halloween. And did I mention that it’s an 8:00 game?

I just want to enjoy the opportunity to see my team play. And I know that’s all my friends wanted for me when they gave me those tickets.

Right now I’m deep into a state of general anxiety that makes me pretty difficult to live with. I’m getting ridiculously worried about all kinds of other things, things that I normally don’t think about. For example, last night we dropped TheKid off at the play. We had tickets, and he was called early, so we decided to go out to dinner before the show. I was wearing a white fleece jacket. All I could think about was that I should have packed a complete change of clothes (down to shoes) for both of us just in case a waiter spilled something on us, because we wouldn’t have time to go home and change.

I didn’t even say anything about that to Hubs, because how insane is that?

This morning I headed out to Wawa to get a hoagie for TheKid’s lunch today (he has two more shows, and we have to head straight from Mass to the theater to drop him off.) As I was driving, it occurred to me that no one knew where I was; they were both still sleeping at home; what if I got into an accident? How would they even know?

I need to make it stop, but I’m not sure I know how. I’m manufacturing worries here.

There are enough real things to worry about, and I suspect that I’m inventing fake worries to take my mind off the real stuff. I can’t do anything about the real things.

In four days, Hubs has an appointment at the cancer center for his 3-year, 36,000-mile checkup. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years. It feels like yesterday, and it also feels like forever ago. But that appointment is coming up. He’s super-stressed at work; I don’t know what’s going on there, because he has never been one to talk about things that happen at work. (He says he thinks about work enough while he’s there so he doesn’t want to talk about it at home.) He’s stressed about his mom in the nursing home. He doesn’t take good care of himself. Put all that together and you get a perfect storm for health problems.

I can’t control whether or not Hubs’ cancer has returned. There’s nothing I can do to change that.

Controlling every other little thing isn’t going to keep Hubs cancer-free either. So why can’t I make it stop?

Small Success: Serenity Edition

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800 Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes! (Don’t you love the new logo? CatholicMom.com has some amazing artists working on these behind the scenes.)

How’s the week going for you?


Yesterday we took TheKid to his endocrinologist for his 3,000-mile checkup. Despite a wacky few weeks (hello, adolescent growth spurt that kicked off a need for extra insulin) he has a hemoglobin A1C of 5.7. That’s a FANTASTIC number in diabetes land. If he keeps it under 7, his chances of later-in-life complications is drastically reduced.

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My desk has stayed clean for another week (yay!) but I did add a piece of art. I didn’t intend to keep this on the desk when I bought it, but I do like looking at this picture. The other day when I was frustrated by some computer issues (some on my end, some not) I turned it into a meme.

She looks so calm. Wish I were.

I can’t keep this lovely matted print on my desk forever (it’s standing up thanks to a binder clip) so I’ll have to find someplace else in the house for this. Maybe the kitchen. She looks like a good Kitchen Madonna.


I learned how to make a handy-dandy FAQ page, where all the questions are on top and when you click on one, you jump to the answer, farther down on the same page. I was ridiculously excited when it worked.

god first family then notre dameI’m looking forward to tonight’s NCAA basketball game: my Fighting Irish are in the Sweet 16! I’m already dressed for the occasion and am claiming the best spot on the couch. Is this T-shirt great or what? I can even wear it to church! Priorities…

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© 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Art: “The Virgin” by Joseph Stella, 1926. My copy purchased from Joslyn Art Museum. Modification mine.