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Hello Lent – You are so special..

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A perfect example of Natalie’s love of life…reaching out to hug Matt McCracken. Matt is a great friend who wanted to be there for Natalie when she got engaged.

 

Episode 21. Guest Matt McCracken

 

  Lent is here. Lent is a big deal and I owe so much of that because of Natalie and the way she embraced Lent. Natalie enjoyed Easter and she knew that having a meaningful Lent played a big part in that. She and her dad always gave up chocolate but as she evolved as a person and grew in her faith, she realized that loving and giving to others was more meaningful. Natalie would plan the night before who she would do something for that next day to make life a little brighter for them.

        This morning at mass, Fr. Joe said to bring God along with you in your meetings, your emails, your text messages, your agendas for the day. God does not care how many meetings you were at, He cares that you brought Him along.

        Matt McCracken is the guest today. Matt remembers that passion, the interest and the celebrations Natalie brought to this world. How thankful we are that he was a witness.

          A challenge for us all is to accept compliments. I know it can be difficult because we don’t want to come across as vain, or conceited. But actually by accepting compliments you are respecting yourself and this will help you to be more respectful  and kind to others. A simple thank – you is much better than cutting yourself down.

        Thank you so much for listening and have a meaningful Lent.

        Sincerely,
Trish

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Go Team Go!

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No one cheered louder for her teammates than Natalie.

"I look for Natalie's smile, her sparkle in the eyes of my children, It was so rare and special" Coach Mooney

“I look for Natalie’s smile, her sparkle in the eyes of my children, It was so rare and special” Coach Mooney

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The purpose of this podcast is to learn from the lives of these remarkable women..Coach Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis. Your records will be broken, your body will break down, but the way you lived your life and treated others will be your lasting memory.

 

Episode 20. Go Team Go!! Guest Coach Mooney

 

    There is no doubt that sports played a huge part of the life of Natalie. She was a shining example of the lessons learned in sports that can be applied into our lives. We all need goals. We need to write them down, focus on them and work for them. We learn to follow the rules. If you don’t, you will be disqualified or penalized. You need to focus and eliminate the clutter and focus on that goal. Sports teaches you team work and winning means working together. There is enough glory for the whole team and to play a small part in something big.

       What a great distraction sports play in our life. The Super Bowl, the Olympics, or any game. It unites us. So much out there divided us, yet our sports team bring us together. We look for heroes and they can be the superstar athlete or the one who over comes defeat and are so filled with intregrity.

          Our sports career will end, our records will be broken, but our legacy of how we live will not. Thank you Coach Mooney for your kind words on Natalie.

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Natalie knew all the times of her teammates and cheered them on to reach their full potential. She pushed herself daily in practice and lead by example.

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Being on a relay was an honor and privilege. Lauren Hines, Katie Sieben and Charlotte Brackett are in this relay with Natalie.

How Do You Keep The Music Playing?

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One minute she is alive in your dream and you so wish it is true. You must believe and have trust in the promises of Christ.

 

Episode 19. How Do You Keep The Music Playing? Guest Elizabeth.

 

       There is something so beautiful yet compelling about the song “How Do You Keep The Music Playing”. The line, how do you keep a song from fading too fast, stirs emotion. How do you keep it together when January comes and we are in the middle of bleak and grey days? When we have days of despair and groundhogs day is fast approaching? It’s a choice.

        It’s waking up each morning and realizing how important each and every day is. It’s entering the kitchen with a smile. It is not being dragged down by dirty counters and people in our way. It’s going to church. It’s breathing in fresh air. It’s kissing your pets. It’s choosing each day to love what is right in front of you. It’s investing in yourself. It’s being kind to yourself. It’s putting on a positive attitude. It’s a willingness to say yes to our little part to make this world a better place than the day before.

          God sends us people to encourage us, nudge us, and you feel it in your heart a special connection even if it something you meet accidentally on vacation. You are an important person to this world. Always remember you have so much light inside of you even on these dreary winter days.

           Try not to get caught up in being a victim. “The music never ends” and you must trust and believe in God’s promises and know that there is something greater than us who loves and cares for us more that we can ever fathom. Be kind to those who surround you, and that includes yourself.

          Sincerely,
Trish

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Have a willingness to say yes to your part in making today a little better than yesterday to those who are right in front of you.

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God sends you people in your life to give you a nudge, to speak to you through words or actions. Be open to others. This is Elizabeth who I met on vacation.

 

Bring that Vacation Attitude Home

     It’s been a while. As a matter of fact, I cannot even remember when the last time was that I took a 2 week vacation. It’s been quite a ride. I was joined by my husband and kids who rotated in and out. No one had the time off from their job positions to stay the whole time. Too bad. All I can think of is how I want to incorporate some vacation feelings and attitudes back home.

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Daily swims in outdoor salt water pools is my medicine of choice.

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I pet a stingray. The skin was so soft. I fed flamingos. I saw a manatees and sea turtles. It was a great way to give glory to God and his creations.

 

EPISODE 18. Vacation. Tornado. Guest Caroline Lewis

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Who can resist the tart and swore taste of key lime pie.

 

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Have fun! Evan tried a new toy and you could hear his laughter that is too few at home.

 

1. I feel more alive when I travel. I am more aware of the glory of God and His gifts to us. It’s not everyday I can get close up to palm trees, manatees, and sea turtles. It’s the smell of new flowers, visual scenery and walking the beach and feeling the salt air  rejuvenating my skin, making me feel so alive.

2. You move more, and you certainly learn that exercise isn’t always found in a four walled gym.  Swimming outdoors is my medicine of choice and being in the pool for a minimum of an hour a day was a true pleasure. I did take an advantage of the salt water pool and hot tub. Daily walks without boots in comfortable sandals was a treat too.

3. You get by with a lot less things. By packing one suitcase, you get a chance to use all your favorite items without the weight of clutter (for those of you that have that problem in your houses, I’m with you). You take good care of the things you brought down. It’s easy to get dressed as the choices are limited and you realize how much you like living in an uncomplicated environment.

4. The dynamic between you all is improved; You don’t bicker. You are creating memories together and with exercising, being more physical, and enjoying the experience together. You are not on auto pilot and if you want to take a nap at 2 in the afternoon..by all means please do.

5. You are more open to meeting new people and entering conversation with people you meet. I believe that on vacation, you all are on common ground, literally. It is easier to make small talk, share experiences of where you are from, and try to make connections.

6. Traditions. Your kids won’t be kids forever. My heart expands with gratitude to my parents who began this tradition of vacationing in Sarasota, Florida at Siesta Key. It was not a conincidence that Natalie came here as a young child with us and then during her 4 years as a Richmond Spider during her training trip. All 4 of those years I had the privilege of hosting the team at the family condo for dinner each year.

7. You sleep better. I’m not  sure if it’s due to the increase in sunlight we receive in Florida, because Buffalo seems to be chronically deprived, or if it’s related to the extra exercise we embark on, or maybe its the peaceful sound of waves brushing the shore. Either way, it simply can just be that we do not have the stress that keeps us awake at night. We are away from our homes, resting comfortably in a beautiful setting with people we love, and our minds take advantage. Proof you needed a vacation.

8. You have fun. Experiences that you may not have been willing to try at home you do not bat an eye to on vacation. I had so much fun watching my husband ride a Trike, the video is on Instagram.

9. You try new foods. Every location has their “known for” food. OK, maybe “key lime pie” isn’t exactly healthy but we have purchased 3 of these tasty sweet and tart pies and enjoy slicing away pieces whenever  we so choose. And, I did try “hogfish” for the first time which was delightfully light.

10. You tend to go out more and engage in conversation with strangers and meet up with friends from long ago. I have met people out for breakfast and lunch on the drop of a dime. Every relationship is an opportunity to learn from their life and learn from mine. It’s a clash of two amazing novels.

And now for the bonus.

11. Life doesn’t work out all the time even on vacation.  When you get faced with a natural disaster that is totally unexpected, beyond my wildest dream…a tornado on the beach of Siesta Key! Historic. No one can ever recall this sort of natural disaster. Things are often upside down. A case of red tide, a rain storm, even a hurricane can be somewhat expected although not common. A tornado that touched down 300 feet away is nothing you would ever expect. Live each day and not worry about what tomorrow might bring because there is so much you have no control over. If life can change in a snap, realize that if you have a relationship to heal, words left unsaid, or things you need to do is what you need to do. When you are at peace, you do not live in fear but know that God is in control. There is no perfect place. No matter where you go on this earth, no place is paradise. The only perfect place is eternity.

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Sunsets and beaches and brothers and sisters.

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The shades of blue in this picture are incredible.

 

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Poodles went to parrots. We got close.

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How wonderful that Natalie spent her family vacations here in Siesta Key and her college team came to the same location for training trip. How wonderful that I was able to host the swim team for dinner for those 4 years. Natalie feels so alive here. Natalie is pictured here with her classmates and close friends Chrissy and Nicole.

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No place on earth is perfect but this is pretty close. The tornado was a scare but do not live in fear, live prepared.

Perspective

     We have all been give opportunities in life. We may not all be student athletes in college or be married to someone, but we all have circumstances that make it possible to do something, and to make a difference in others lives. Every second, every circumstance that is aligned with our lives can be viewed as an opportunity.  As every opportunity has the chance to enhance our personal lives as well as those around us, I truly feel opportunities should not be wasted. And if any of you have read my blog or listened or my podcast previously, you know that I put emphasis on simple daily opportunities that become gestures for others to add positivity into their lives.

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As a weight lifting coach, Jay encountered many athletes with talent and drive to be better, and his ideas about perception directly correlate to our attitudes about the scenario.

 

Episode #17. Perspective. Guest Jay DeMayo

     I did a little experiment, inspired by Natalie, where I took a bunch of brightly colored post-it notes and stuck them all over the house. They simply said “I like being with you.” I hope to portray a small token of my love for Evan by simply letting him know that I genuinely enjoy our time together, in other words: I like being with him, we are better people together. So often it is easy to not convey feelings of appreciation, life has a way of distracting us from those emotions. Money problems, things left unsaid, impatience can all eat away at the love we are meant to share. It’s important to realize what we have right now in this moment is big. Give that extra bit of effort and energy and watch the payoff. It can be in a good belly laugh, good feelings and encouragement that the world needs. You only have one shot at this day you are given, today is special. Your perception of how to promote goodness may be achieved by smaller things more than the bigger things.

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Evan started laughing every time he picked up a post it note that read “I like being with you.”

 

     As a weight lifting coach, Jay encountered many athletes with talent and drive to be better, and his ideas about perception directly correlate to our attitudes about the scenario. It is not positive to say “things could be worse” and shake off a bad moment that way, but rather to look deeper into the difficult time and learn from it, change from it. Natalie had the perception that everything that was being put into her through countless work outs, lost sleep, friends gained, and championships won, that  everything that is being done for the student athletes is being done for them. Her appreciation did not go unnoticed. The influence a positive perspective can have on a situation is, in my opinion, a quality that immediately shows a truthfulness of a person, along with their desire to improve the world around them. May we all learn from Natalie’s was appreciation and love for every opportunity, and take the change to embrace it and say YES. When the effort is there, your investment at each situation and each moment is  the best lesson that can be taught. Attack the moment, leave the impact.

Sincerely, Trish

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This moment is important. Attack the moment with your best self. Understand that you get what you give.

 

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Natalie had the perception that everything that was being put into her through countless work outs, lost sleep, friends gained, and championships won, that everything that is being done for the student athletes is being done for them.

 

 

Happy and Healthy Relationships in 2016

     There is something so beautiful about a New Year. It’s a new chance to get it right, to strive to be better, to reexamine what is working and what is not working in our lives.

     It’s only natural that exercise and better eating is at the top of our lists. Saving money is also a big one. If you want to save more money and gain control of your budget, I highly endorse taking the Dave Ramsey Total Money Make-Over course. It works and it connects you and your spouse on the same page.

     Although studies show that most of us do not keep up with our New Year Resolutions, it is also easier than you think to develop good new habits that really stick. I walk daily, try to attend daily mass, and take a photograph a day to help heighten my faith and appreciation of the life I have been given.

Episode # 16. Healthy and Happy Relationships. Happy 2016. Guest Mina Vucic

        I asked my 3 sisters what their New Years Resolutions were and they gave me many answers. To smile more, to be kinder to their husband, to eat at home more and cook with a cast iron pot. To not worry, and to look for the good. The list was longer but you get the idea.

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Photo with Mina (center) and Chrissy. Natalie on the right. The teammates and good relationships on the University of Richmond swim team have life long effects.

 

      I recently listened to a TED talk from Robert Waldinger about what makes a good life. It’s not fame or fortune. It is a having good relationships that keep us happier and healthier. The study was done on 724 men that were both affluent and those struggling financially without running water. Money was not the factor. It was having a loving and happy relationships with family, friends and the community. Loneliness and isolation leads to a decline in life longevity.

     We will never understand or believe what happened to our daughter Natalie. It will never make sense to us. Natalie lived her life so beautifully full of healthy relationships and love. Our guest Mina Vucic talks about the lasting effect Natalie has on her. She remembers Natalie being a fierce competitor in the pool yet did so with grace and humility. Mina would get lost in Natalie’s world of cooking for others, cleaning up, being so joyful to share her gifts with others. We owe it to our loved ones to live joyfully, fully and with deep appreciation for each day. It’s a way to honor those who have gone before us and showed us the way.

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Mina would get lost in Natalie’s world of positivity and joy.

       With the way Natalie lived and knowing how supportive and loving our family, friends and neighbors are to us, I set out a goal to host a small dinner party each month. It is not easy to do this but as long as we have the house, the china, the glasses and the desire to be together..why not? My husband joked..that may be your resolution but it sure isn’t mine! But I am sure nothing matters more that serving others and simply being together to make each day count in meaningful and valued relationships.

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Natalie emulated heathy and happy relationships. Here she is with our guest Mina and teammate Charlotte.

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My New Years Resolution is to host more small dinner parties to honor the way Natalie prepared meals for other. It is joyful to share time together.

Christmas Reflection

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Cara nicknamed “Smany” in the white with Natalie at a sporting event at Richmond.

 Episode 15. Christmas Reflection. Guest Cara Smaniotto McCracken.

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                                                                                                                                                                     Now that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are behind us, let us take a moment to reflect on what we really enjoyed and what we might add or remove from our celebrations next year.

Our family prepared our house with painting, rearranging and trying to simplify our home. We were far from a DIY show on TV with a lot of grunting and groaning. All of us helped to beautify our home for hosting Christmas Eve dinner.

Hosting ,despite the amount of work in the preparation, is so satisfying. I really want to thank the family for pitching it. Team effort for sure.

Our painter, who is also a newspaper carrier for the Buffalo News delivers his paper to 385 homes. He received 80 cards with tips. About 20%. Let us aspire to be the 20% to encourage and acknowledge the hard work in others.

Food is such a welcomed gift during the Holidays. We so enjoyed the quiche, pears, nuts, ham, cookies, candy and bread we received from friends. I tend to think of December as an “All You Can Eat” month.

We all so enjoy attending masses this time of year and I have visited many churches during the Christmas season. Seeing the Nativity sets, the beautiful decorations and hearing the choir sing gives me a little glimpse on how beautiful heaven must be on Christmas Day.

We set a place for Natalie during our traditional family Christmas brunch. We just lit a little white candle at her place. We feel that in our hearts it will always be the 5 of us sitting down for brunch. She was the reason the brunch was so pleasingly delicious. Just as we sat down and began to pray, her favorite Christmas song, a song we even played at her funeral, came on the radio. It is Josh Groban “Believe”.

Believe in what your heart is saying

Hear the melody that’s playing

There’s no time to waste

There’s so much to celebrate

Believe in what you feel inside

And give your dreams the wings to fly

You have everything you need

If you just believe

Believe

Thank you for the God Nod.

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Getting our table ready to host Christmas Eve dinner.

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A quiche makes a great and welcomes gift.

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Natalie’s plate at our traditional Christmas brunch…just as we all sat down to pray ..her favorite song Josh Groban “Believe” came on the radio. God Nod.

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Cara and Matt. Terrific friends and loved by Natalie so much.

Cara Smaniotto McCracken shares stories of Natalie and misses naps, texts messages and her uplifting way she would celebrate others. Cara shares a story of how Natalie was so thankful to her friends after her engagement instead of being caught up with herself.

Thank you for listening. Sincerely, Trish

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Fresh flowers brighten the house and a yellow leather love seat is something my husband and I gave to each other.

 

Christmas Time

 

Natalie really upgraded our brunch and took it to a new level. Her she is preparing a beautiful brunch for her family.

Natalie really upgraded our brunch and took it to a new level. Her she is preparing a beautiful brunch for her family.

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One month before Natalie was lifted up she was celebrating her engagement with Liz, Anna and Lilly Hays.

 

Episode 14. Christmas Time with Anna Hays and Evan Jr and Caroline Lewis

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Look at the table that Natalie would prepare for us. Always serving and preparing for others. Such a delicious brunch just for the 5 of us.

 

     We all long to be together and be with family at Christmas. This Christmas I am reflecting on time.

     Time is something we cannot buy. We never have enough time and we never get back. Use your time to love and encourage others. Looking back at Christmas and witnessing how Natalie gave her gift of time to making gingerbread houses with neighborhood children and waking up early on Christmas morning to prepare her family an incredible brunch simply stir a feeling of deep gratitude of her selfless life.

     Keep your traditions going. We are regulars at the 4 pm mass. We are all so happy to be together. Know what is important to you and your family. Take it slow. Kids may ask for the latest toys and high tech gadgets but what they really want is your time. Reading to them. Listening to them. Taking a walk with them. Time with your children is your gift to say to them you are valued and loved. Children want their parents to get along.

      I love the line in the song “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” that sings “O Come Let Us Adore Him”.  This year at mass I will add a line to the song and sing “And Let Us Feel Adored By Him.” Let your faith open your heart and feel the love of the Savior of the world.

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Christmas 2013

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One of the traditions that Natalie started was always making a gingerbread house and sharing that joy with neighborhood children.

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Be There

 

     Of course there is nothing better than being there for our own children. Our family is our core. Attending our children’s athletic events, performances, concerts, graduations, etc. truly make our heart sing.

     But if you expand out just a bit, the satisfaction grows even more. Consider the friends of your children. I look back with fulfullment at the times that I was there for others outside my family. With a joyful heart, I remember attending basketball games, taking prom pictures, and attending graduations. This past weekend I attended a high school play of a girl down the street. There are hardly enough words to try to describe the enjoyment of being there and witnessing the growing up years of these neighbors and friends.

 

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Abe and Natalie attend graduation for Evan from college. The fact that Abe was so close to Natalie and knows her value and goodness and is a witness to it makes the bond even stronger.

 

EPISODE #13. BE There. Guest Abe Miller. press hard

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I’m so complimented to see photos of people I have taken pictures of framed in their homes. This is a favorite of Abe’s family.

 

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“Invite a friend night” for dinner. Evan invited Abe. Natalie invited Eleanor and Caroline invited Allie. Create a memory. Host an “Invite A Friend” night dinner.

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Although they did not attend any of the same schools, it made no difference. They are different faiths and have different political views but what unites us is greater than what differences there are. Evan and Abe have a lasting friendship with roots. They are best friends.

 

     We all grow up differently yet all want and need the same things. We may have a different faith from our neighbors, but it didn’t matter because what we shared it common far exceeded our differences.  When pictures that I have taken become photos in frames in other’s homes, it reiterates to me the importance of being there; that the impact of sharing a piece of someone else’s life often means as much to them as it does to me. The smiles, the love, the fun we would have with Abe and his entire family stick out in my head as one of our strongest friendships. So, as a take away message, I encourage you all to be there for friends and neighbors accomplishments. It’s the best way that you can spend time is to be there to encourage and support each other. Open your door and your heart to inviting people outside of your family in. Love and be loved. Love conquers all. Sincerely, Trish

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There was so much mutual love and respect between Abe and Natalie. Both athletes. Growing up together and sharing the teen years with late night talks where they encouraged each other to be the one to step up and set the example.

Here’s A Tip

     As the Holiday season approaches, I want to enlighten you to the importance of giving a tip. There is a gentleman doing some interior painting at my house and I had the opportunity to listen to one of his holiday traditions that he still holds near to his heart. This particular painter also picks up part time delivering newspapers for the Buffalo News. He expressed to me first hand, the emotional high he receives when he is handed and envelope with a card and a tip around this time of year. It never is the amount that remains with him and warms him throughout his journey from house to house on cold winter days, but more so the letter and card attached. A simple, “thank you”, acknowledgment, appreciation for his work suddenly makes all of those 2:30 AM wake ups worth it. I understand that money is tight with all the the demands and expectations during this time of year, but avoiding is not the answer. A card with a note of appreciation and any gift of cash is truly examined and gives purpose on those middle of the night deliveries. It’s a vote for restoring the value in a person’s life.

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Here is Natalie after game day morning practice back at the hotel in Pittsburgh. Becca and Natalie shared an encouraging friendship and respect for each other.

 Episode 12. Here’s a Tip. Guest: Becca Wann. Click Hard

 

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Rarely does a coach assign a shared room with a member of the coaching staff and a player. But, Natalie and Becca were capable of breaking all the rules. Here they are sharing a room in Olean before a St. Bonaventure game.

     Becca, an outstanding 2 sport athlete, turns our attention to a side of Natalie that we all miss, her unending ability to make other’s day. The most remarkable part about how Natalie did this was through her small, meaningful actions. Similar to the gesture of acknowledging the paper man for the holidays, Natalie would leave encouraging notes, letters, handmade cards, and a little treat to help her friends and colleagues get through the day. There isn’t a single person who felt unappreciated when Natalie was around. The simplicity of her actions is often a gesture some of us overlook nowadays when we try to do things for one another. Everything seems to be over the top, grandiose gestures, posted on social media, broadcasted for all to see. But when we reflect on those who have really touched us, isn’t it the smallest of gestures, a smile, a hug, a positive attitude during a hardship that reminds us of the good in the world? Think of the power of the single post it note that read..I hope these dry fruit dry up those wet eyes I saw earlier at practice. Love, Nat

 

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Becca and Dan. Getting married this weekend. Both members of the University of Richmond class of 2014.